Eric Cimino, chef of Luca: "The fancy-burger trend should call it quits"

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Lori Midson

Eric Cimino
Luca D'Italia
711 Grant Street
303-832-6600
lucadenver.com

This is part one of my interview with Eric Cimino, chef of Luca D'Italia; part two of our chat will tun tomorrow.

Like a lot of kids, Eric Cimino had a grand plan for when he arrived at adulthood. He wanted to be a psychologist, figuring he'd excel because he was the guy everyone hit up for guidance. He even graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in psychology, but like a lot of college survivors, he soon discovered that his original master plan wasn't the one he wanted to pursue. "I realized that I couldn't listen to people's problems all day long; I just couldn't see that future working out in the end, plus I cared too much to disconnect myself," confesses Cimino, today the executive chef at Luca D'Italia.

See also: Chef and Tell with Frank Bonanno of Luca, Mizuna, Osteria Marco and Bones

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Richard Glover, chef of Fooducopia, on what still gives him nightmares

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Lori Midson

Richard Glover
Fooducopia
1939 East Kentucky Avenue
303-722-7838
fooducopia.com

This is part two of my interview with Richard Glover, exec chef of Fooducopia; part one of our conversation ran yesterday.

Your three favorite Denver restaurants other than your own:
Pho 79 on Havana and Mississippi. I love the broth, the herbs are always fresh, and, as per custom, they don't bring a bill to your table, which is considered rude. I've also always had a really nice time at Vesta Dipping Grill. The atmosphere is great, the food is delicious and the staff is well-trained. If I want really fresh oysters and great cocktails, then I'll go to Jax Fish House.

See also: Richard Glover, chef of Fooducopia, on his new farm and launching dinner


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Richard Glover, chef of Fooducopia, on his new farm and launching dinner

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Lori Midson

Richard Glover
Fooducopia
1939 East Kentucky Avenue
303-722-7838
fooducopia.com

This is part one of my interview with Richard Glover, exec chef of Fooducopia; part two of our conversation will run tomorrow.

Every so often, you'll hear the lilt in Richard Glover's voice. Born in South Africa and raised in Botswana, Glover, today the executive chef of Fooducopia, speaks several phonetically complicated languages, including Khoisan, the dialects of Africa that have click consonants. You'll rarely, if ever, hear these spoken in any American restaurant kitchen, so Glover practices when he can, interrupting the rapid flow with English-spoken memories of his unorthodox childhood. "I was born in South Africa, but only because there was no hospital within six hours of Botswana. Had I been born there, it would have been under the trees and I would have been surrounded by goats -- I'm not kidding," insists Glover, who says he grew up on a 37,000-acre farm "in the middle of nowhere."

See also: First look: Fooducopia's Corner Store and Cafe opens in the heart of Washington Park

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Aniedra Nichols, exec chef of Elway's Cherry Creek: "Never show fear"

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Lori Midson

Aniedra Nichols
Elway's Cherry Creek
2500 East First Avenue
303-399-5353
elways.com

This is part two of my interview with Aniedra Nichols, exec chef of Elway's Cherry Creek; part one of our conversation ran yesterday.

What's the best food- or kitchen-related gift you've been given?
I've had quite a few, but my most recent toy was a Vitamix Professional Series blender. That thing is awesome. Thanks, Mom!

See also: Elway's exec chef Aniedra Nichols on Vesta chef Brandon Foster


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Elway's exec chef Aniedra Nichols on Vesta chef Brandon Foster

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Lori Midson

Aniedra Nichols
Elway's Cherry Creek
2500 East First Avenue
303-399-5353
elways.com

This is part one of my interview with Aniedra Nichols, exec chef of Elway's Cherry Creek; part one of our conversation will run tomorrow.

"Instead of watching cartoons, I was either glued to all of the old cooking shows, like Great Chefs, Yen Can Cook, Justin Wilson and Julia Child, or in the kitchen with my grandma, who was always baking and cooking," recalls Aniedra Nichols, today the executive chef at Elway's Cherry Creek. In fact, by the age of five, the Arizona native was already doing her own thing in the kitchen. "I remember making sugar cookies when I was really, really young, and while they turned out flat, in my mind they looked gorgeous, especially with the sprinkles," she says.

See also: Ten best restaurants in Cherry Creek

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Chef Andrew Selvaggio on being an answer to a question on Jeopardy

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Lori Midson

Andrew Selvaggio
Live Basil Pizza, Tom's Urban and Smashburger
smashburger.com, livebasilpizza.com, tomsurban24.com

This is part two of my interview with Andrew Selvaggio, chef of Smashburger, Live Basil and Tom's Urban; part one of my chat with Selvaggio ran yesterday.

Most memorable meal you've ever had:
It was in 1983, at Michael's in Santa Monica. The general manager of the restaurant where I was the executive chef took me on an immersive culinary tour around Los Angeles to experience what was then known as California cuisine. We went to Spago, La Toque, 72 Market Street, West Beach Cafe in Venice and Michael's in Santa Monica, where Jonathan Waxman was the chef. He amazed me with his frisée salad with lardon, poached egg and glace de viande; mosaic of melon with a chile-lime dressing and cotija cheese; and the grilled Muscovy duck breast served fanned, its pink flesh seared and sliced on top of a raspberry glace du canard and then surrounded with fanned and turned baby vegetables. The meal finished with raspberry, lemon and mango sorbets with fresh baked cookies and berries. Oh, and then there was the Bonny Doon ice wine. The experience was illuminating.

See also: Smashburger, Live Basil and Tom's Urban chef Andrew Selvaggio : "You don't learn a trade; you steal it"


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Smashburger, Live Basil and Tom's Urban chef Andrew Selvaggio : "You don't learn a trade; you steal it"

Andrewslivebasil.jpg
Lori Midson

Andrew Selvaggio
Live Basil Pizza, Tom's Urban and Smashburger
smashburger.com, livebasilpizza.com, tomsurban24.com

This is part one of my interview with Andrew Selvaggio, chef of Smashburger, Live Basil and Tom's Urban; part two of my chat with Selvaggio will run tomorrow.

"Food was a huge part of my life, of my family culture, of ritual and reward," remembers Andrew Selvaggio, the 55-year-old corporate executive chef of the sprawling Smashburger chain, Live Basil Pizza and Tom's Urban. Raised in Chicago, Selvaggio was born and bred into a family of restaurateurs: His dad owned a bakery and his grandfather ran a pastry shop. They, along with Julia Child and Graham Kerr (Selvaggio admits he couldn't tear himself away from old-fashioned food TV), paved the way for his future in cooking -- a successful future that started in the tiny kitchen of La Petite Cuisine, a long-gone French restaurant in Illinois.

See also: Live Basil Pizza opens today in Glendale with a new look -- and new things to come

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City Bakery's Caitlin Mandigo on what keeps her up at night

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Lori Midson

Caitlin Mandigo
City Bakery
5454 Washington Street
303-292-3989
citybakerydenver.com

This is part two of my interview with Caitlin Mandigo, bread baker at City Bakery; part one of our conversation ran yesterday.

There are all sorts of romantic notions about what it's like to bake bread. What's it really like?
Baking bread is hard work, but definitely very rewarding. I'm at the bakery at 2 a.m. five days a week, and for the first hour, I'm by myself, which means that if anything goes wrong it's up to me -- and only me -- to figure it out. There's also quite a bit of stress in getting the deliveries out on time, especially when there are chaotic situations, like if the cooler breaks and we have to redo all of our bread, or if it's so cold outside that the bread won't rise, even if it's in the proofer. It's a job that's hard on your body, too. I'm always lifting heavy stuff, mainly fifty-pound bags of flour, which, when added up, is about 1,000 pounds a day. I've watched many people come and go. It's physically and mentally demanding, so you have to come in every day well rested and ready to face the grind.

See also: City Bakery's Caitlin Mandigo: "I've never really understood cake pops"


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City Bakery's Caitlin Mandigo: "I've never really understood cake pops"

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Lori Midson

Caitlin Mandigo
City Bakery
5454 Washington Street
303-292-3989
citybakerydenver.com

This is part one of my interview with Caitlin Mandigo, bread baker at City Bakery; part two of our conversation will run tomorrow.

Food "is in my family's blood," says Caitlin Mandigo, the bread production manager at City Bakery. Born and raised in St. Joseph, Michigan, Mandigo spent her early years hanging out in the kitchen. "My brother is a chef, and my dad is a great home cook -- cooking came naturally to them -- and when I was young, I looked up to them both and always wanted to be right next to them in the kitchen," explains Mandigo, who began working in professional kitchens when she was just thirteen, first as a dish monkey and then as a prep cook for a steak-and-seafood restaurant in her home town.

See also: Baker Michael Bortz opening City Bakery Cafe in the former Lenny's Sub Shop on Lincoln

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Tony Hessel, chef of West Flanders Brewing, on practicing patience

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Lori Midson

Tony Hessel
West Flanders Brewing Co.
1125 Pearl Street, Boulder
303-447-2739
wfbrews.com

This is part two of my interview with Tony Hessel, exec chef of West Flanders Brewing Co; part one of our conversation ran yesterday.

Which living chef do you most admire?
Alice Waters. She was my inspiration for becoming a chef, and I love her passion. The first time I ate at her restaurant, it was like heaven, and she still makes me want to be a better chef. I love her philosophy that everything should be as local as possible, and it's cool that because of her commitment to locality, farmers and cheese makers are now becoming as famous as she is. Plus, it didn't hurt that I got to work with one of her chefs for a nice stint.

See also: Tony Hessel, chef of West Flanders Brewing: "Cupcakes are over-indulgent"


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