Diane Snider, chef of Row 14, on stripping down to her underwear
This is part two of my interview with Diane Snider, exec chef of Row 14 Bistro & Wine Bar; part one of our conversation ran yesterday.
Most memorable meal you've ever had:
When I traveled to Estoril, Portugal, a little town outside of Lisbon, I found this authentic Portuguese restaurant and ordered the octopus, which was slow-cooked in extra-virgin olive oil and served with potatoes. When I took that first bite, my tastebuds began dancing...it was so tender and so well prepared, and I knew I had to savor every bite, so I tried to eat it as slowly as I could. I was also very reluctant to share it with my company. At the same time, I wanted them to try it, if only to understand how delicious it was. I had to know how the kitchen prepared it, so I asked our server and he told me the secret. I'll eventually travel back to Portugal just to have this dish again.
Your three favorite Denver restaurants other than your own:
I love the Korean barbecue at Dae Gee, in Westminster, and I'm also a fan of Uncle and Pho 79. I love Asian foods due to my upbringing.
Most underrated restaurant in Denver:
Sakura House. They have so many good options, from their ramen to their bento boxes. I've never left there unsatisfied.
Who is Denver's next rising-star chef?
Aniedra Nichols. She's blowing up all over the place, and I had the pleasure of staging with her at Elway's Cherry Creek a couple of years ago. She's strong and smart and an extremely talented chef.
Which living chef do you admire the most?
I know it might be clichéd, but chef Matsuharu Morimoto is a badass. His food is badass; his knives (swords) are badass; his technique is badass; and his clothes are badass. He's just a badass all the way around.
If you could have dinner, all expenses paid, at any restaurant in the world, where would you go?
I was given a cookbook called The Winterlake Lodge Cookbook, which refers to a secluded area that a family bought in Winterlake, Alaska. To get there, you have to take a float boat, and once you're there, you can learn to fish and gather your food. The culinary expert behind this is Kirsten Dixon, and I would jump at the opportunity in a heartbeat.
If you had the opportunity to open your own restaurant with no budget constraints, what kind of restaurant would you open?
Since I grew up in Hawaii and love the ocean so much, I'd open a little cabana directly on the beach and have no more than eight to ten tables. Guests would literally have the catch of the day and all the tropical ingredients the island has to offer. I'd have awesome fruity island drinks and cheap but upscale and delicious food.
What do you enjoy most about your craft?
I love the challenge of turning food into something amazing, and I love it when people challenge me. My favorite part of working at TAG was the omakase challenges we used to have. We'd be assigned a course and a protein, and the winner of the challenge would get their name on the board. It always made the winner feel amazing, and knowing that your dish was the guests' favorite was an overwhelmingly great feeling.
If you could train under any chef in the world, who would it be?
I'd train under chef Morimoto, for the same reason I admire him: He's a badass!