Jeff Jones, chef of P17: "We become a better restaurant when you give us constructive criticism"
What should every home cook have in the pantry?
A good selection of spices, which should include cumin, fennel, paprika and garlic powder. I always have dried beans and lentils on hand; I love cannellini beans and red lentils for their flavor and how quickly they cook. And grains like farro, quinoa and kamut can always be combined in simple ways to create a great meal.
Best recipe tip for a home cook:
Unless you're baking, in which case you should precisely follow the recipe, you should make the recipe your own. If you like cumin, add cumin; if you don't like parsley, take it out. The difference between a good recipe and a great one is usually just a little bit of salt.
What's always lurking in your refrigerator?
Marinated olives. I love them, especially castelvetranos. We house-cure our olives at P17 because of my obsession.
Favorite culinary-related gift you've been given:
I was given a chef's knife when I was first getting into cooking by Bryce Finn, my chef and mentor while in high school in Seeley Lake, Montana. Bryce was my chef at Seasons Restaurant at the Double Arrow Resort, and he gave me the knife as a thank-you after six years of working with him. I've since passed the knife down to an intern of mine, but I'd like to see it back in my kitchen one day. There's nothing better than a gift that you're going to put to good use.
Favorite culinary-related item to give as a gift:
In a pinch, which is most of the time, a bottle of Templeton rye has always worked for me. No bow necessary.
What's your fantasy splurge?
I love spending money eating out, and my ultimate fantasy splurge would be to backpack through Europe for months, eating at the small family spots as well as the Michelin-rated restaurants of the world.
What's one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?
I love the Colorado outdoors. In my spare time, when I'm not with my wife, I love to fly-fish and check out the local rivers and lakes.
If you hadn't become a chef, what would you be doing right now?
I grew up playing golf, and working in kitchens was just a way for me to play for free. It wasn't until late in my senior year of high school that I realized that working in kitchens is what I wanted to do for my career. But if I weren't cooking, I'd be out hacking it on the golf course.