Software to sandwiches: Rick Koerner stacks the deck at Stack Subs

Categories: Chef and Tell

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Mark Antonation
Stack Subs owner Rick Koerner and his new shop in Belmar.
The story is a familiar one in the restaurant business: a corporate employee from outside the food world -- maybe a sales rep or a project manager or a VP of operations -- is forced by circumstances to make a life-changing decision and determines to follow a dream. The usual impetus is downsizing or restructuring (corporate-speak for getting canned), leaving no choice but to jump back into the soul-killing world of continuous business expansion and contraction or to make your own path, uncertain as it may be. For Rick Koerner, owner of Stack Subs, the decision may have been a little easier because it was based on love: love for his family, for Colorado, and for sandwiches.

See also: Alex Seidel: Thinking outside the box for Mercantile Dining & Provision

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Alex Seidel: Thinking outside the box for Mercantile Dining & Provision

Categories: Chef and Tell

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Ellen Jaskol
Alex Seidel announcing his plans for Mercantile Dining & Provision last January.
Union Station is hosting its grand opening on Saturday, July 26, two weeks behind schedule -- but one of the restaurants going into the historic building is even further down the track: Mercantile Dining & Provision. Still, Mercantile -- a 5,000 square foot restaurant in the north wing helmed by Alex Seidel -- should be worth waiting for.

See also: Slide show of Fruition Farms

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Dave Query on the end of Q's and the start of Big Red F

Categories: Chef and Tell

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Photo courtesy of Big Red F
What Dave Query likes to do when he's not running restaurants.
Q's Restaurant in the Hotel Boulderado closed last week; it's turning into Spruce. To understand that name, you need only look outside the circa 1909 hotel, which is located at Spruce and 13th streets in Boulder. The explanation of the name that's being abandoned is a little more complicated: Those with a long memory of the Boulder dining scene will connect the letter Q with Dave Query, the chef who was the restaurant's original owner two decades ago.

See also: Lola unveils new logo and menu in changing LoHi

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Stephen McCary, chef of Mizuna, on his weekend warrior and the missing dishwasher

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Lori Midson

Stephen McCary
Mizuna
225 East Seventh Avenue
303-832-4778
mizunadenver.com

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.

See also: Stephen McCary, chef of Mizuna: "I'd love it if the words 'molecular gastronomy' would die"


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Stephen McCary, chef of Mizuna: "I'd love it if the words 'molecular gastronomy' would die"

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Lori Midson

Stephen McCary
Mizuna
225 East Seventh Avenue
303-832-4778
mizunadenver.com

This is part one of my interview with Steve McCary, exec chef of Mizuna; tune in tomorrow for part two of our chat.

It's mid-afternoon on a Tuesday, and Mizuna's kitchen is already buzzing in preparation for dinner service. On the line, executive chef Stephen McCary, a six-year veteran of the venerable restaurant -- still one of Denver's most coveted reservations -- is fielding questions posed by his staff, responding to their inquiries in a soft Southern drawl that reflects his Alabama upbringing, which involved blueberries and peas, squashes and melons, corn and tomatoes, all of which were grown in the two-acre garden on his grandparents' homestead.

See also: Frank Bonanno's ten favorite things at the ten Bonanno Concept eateries


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Jordan Wallace, chef of Pizzeria Locale, on his Vitamix episode, David Chang and victory

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Lori Midson

Jordan Wallace
Pizzeria Locale
550 Broadway
720-508-8828
pizzerialocale.com

This is part two of my interview with Jordan Wallace, chef of Pizzeria Locale; part one of our chat ran yesterday.

Most memorable meal you've ever had:
A dinner at Quince in San Francisco before the restaurant relocated to its current home. It was my first trip to San Francisco, and I think we had about sixteen courses, ten of which were pasta, and the meal lasted about five hours. It was way too much food, but I forced down every bite because it was all so delicious. I was eating with Sarah, my now-fiancée, and Yoann Lardeux, who was sous-chef of Frasca at the time, and his wife. Michael Tusk -- the chef and owner -- brought out every course himself, and we drank different small pours of wine with almost every one of them. To top it all off, I spent the entire next day in the kitchen making everything I had eaten the night before.

See also: Jordan Wallace, chef of Pizzeria Locale, on the "atrocious" calzone


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Jordan Wallace, chef of Pizzeria Locale, on the "atrocious" calzone

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Lori Midson

Jordan Wallace
Pizzeria Locale
550 Broadway
720-508-8828
pizzerialocale.com

This is part one of my interview with Jordan Wallace, chef of Pizzeria Locale; part two of our chat will run tomorrow.

There are two breeds of chef: those who know from day one that cooking is in the cards, and those who have to shuffle the deck a few times before realizing that they could be an ace in the kitchen. Jordan Wallace, executive chef and head pizzaiolo at Pizzeria Locale, falls into the latter category.

See also: Pizzeria Locale will open its second Denver location in Highland later this year

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Alex Figura, chef of Lower48 Kitchen, on the chicken he turned into chewing gum

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Lori Midson

Alex Figura
Lower48 Kitchen
2020 Lawrence Street
303-942-0262
lower48kitchen.com

This is part two of my interview with Alex Figura, exec chef of Lower48 Kitchen; part one of our conversation ran yesterday.

Most memorable meal you've ever had:
This place in Barcelona, Spain, that was tucked away in an alley that my friend and I nicknamed "The Pig Palace." We had both been working in Europe for a good chunk of time, and this joint just hit the spot with its fried morcilla de burgos (blood sausage), chorizo and pork belly and a couple glasses of cava. It was the kind of place that's always packed, and all they serve is pork products with serving utensils that are nothing more than a bundle of toothpicks. The trash cans are the floors, and sausages and bellies hang from the ceiling. It's truly a classic.

See also: Alex Figura, chef of Lower48 Kitchen, on commodity chicken and cutting the tape


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Alex Figura, chef of Lower48 Kitchen, on commodity chicken and cutting the tape

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Lori Midson

Alex Figura
Lower48 Kitchen
2020 Lawrence Street
303-942-0262
lower48kitchen.com

This is part one of my interview with Alex Figura, exec chef of Lower48 Kitchen; part two of my conversation with Figura will run tomorrow.

"My parents always joke that it's unlikely that I'll ever miss a meal," says Alex Figura, the executive chef at Lower48 Kitchen. "My mom and dad made dinner every night for my sisters and me, and I'd always help in the kitchen, first by force -- I always had to peel the shrimp and fry the chicken -- and then I started to actually like cooking. I knew from an early age that I wanted to work with food, but I wasn't sure in what capacity."

See also: Review: Lower48 Kitchen raises the bar in Denver

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DJ Nagle, chef of Humboldt: Farm, Fish, Wine: "Respect the dishwashers"

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Lori

DJ Nagle
Humboldt: Farm, Fish, Wine
1700 Humboldt Street
303-813-1700
humboldtrestaurant.com

This is part two of my interview with DJ Nagle, executive chef of Humboldt: Farm, Fish, Wine; the first installment of our chat ran yesterday.

Most noteworthy meal you've ever eaten:
When I was a young cook working at Indigo restaurant in San Francisco, my chef had a friend who managed Tra Vigne in Napa Valley, and he invited us to dine there. We were treated like VIPs and enjoyed at least twelve courses, including confit pork shank, quail pasta, fresh mozzarella (this was before the burrata craze) and chocolate budino. It was just an extraordinary meal and over-the-top awesome. I hope that more meals like that are in my future.

See also: DJ Nagle, chef of Humboldt: Farm, Fish, Wine, on benching the fifteen-pound burrito


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