Stephen McCary, chef of Mizuna, on his weekend warrior and the missing dishwasher
This is part two of my interview with Steve McCary, exec chef of Mizuna; part one of our chat ran yesterday.
Most memorable meal you've ever had:
A few years ago, Frank Bonanno and Jacqueline, his wife, took some of the chefs to Guy Savoy in Las Vegas. It was my first time dining in a three-star Michelin restaurant, and the whole experience, from the placing of the silverware to the amount of knowledge our server had about the way the food was prepared, was amazing. It was several hours of incredible food and wine. Just perfect.
Your three favorite Denver restaurants other than your own:
Jeff Osaka and Chuck James have a great ingredient-driven menu at twelve that I love. I worked with Jon Robbins, who just opened Bistro Barbès, for several years at Mizuna, and he's putting out some tight and reasonably priced food in his new space. I also love Sushi Sasa, which has the best sushi in Denver.
Most underrated restaurant in Denver:
Saigon Bowl on Federal is awesome. The combination bowl is delicious, or get the ca chien mam gung -- fried catfish with fish sauce and ginger.
Which living chef do you most admire?
A few summers ago, I went to stage at Aureole in New York, and the chef, Marcus Gleadow-Ware, runs his kitchen very professionally, plus he makes really creative and labor-intensive dishes that have a simple beauty. He's cooked in a few different countries around the world -- and he also worked for Marco Pierre White. He's a hardworking and extremely smart guy, and I had a blast talking with him about food during our late nights in Manhattan. And on the second night of the stage, we went out to Momofuku Ssäm Bar and Tertulia -- that was cool.
Who is Denver's next rising-star chef?
Bones has had a few chefs since it opened, and while the food has always been great, Johnny DePierro, who's now the chef, is doing some great dishes and really elevating the menu.
If you could make one request of Denver diners, what would it be?
I'd like for people to enjoy their entire evening, not just try to get into a restaurant at seven o'clock with everyone else. If you join a restaurant at five or nine p.m., you may get a better experience; the servers and kitchen can probably give you a bit more attention and focus.
What do you expect from a restaurant critic?
A critic should try a restaurant at least two or three times to see if they have the same type of experience each time.
Would you ever send a dish back if you were dining in a friend's restaurant?
That's a hard one, but I might not eat the dish if it was spoiled or just terrible. I don't like to send food back, so I think I'd just have a conversation peppered with some professional criticism later.