Cuisine From Home
Ever since I started cooking people always have asked me, what do I cook? What are my specialties? What are my favorite dishes? My response has always been “everything”. I wanted to be a master of all cuisines. I did not want to limit myself in any way. As I advanced my career I heard from many chefs and colleagues that if I wanted to be a great chef I needed to develop my own style, my own micro cuisine. Mario Batali cooks truly traditional food from Italy. Grant Achatz reshapes the way we view food (literally). Gaggan Anand refined Indian cuisine and showed there is more than just curry.
The many restaurants I worked at started to feel the same. Everyone had a Caprese salad or whole Roast chicken dish and used buzz words such as “farm to table” or “hand-crafted”. This food can be delicious but in my view lacked personality as it was made for the masses and profit. I got bored of those menus so I decided to develop my own style.
Smoked Lemonade was the first step to find my style. I created something out of curiosity that happened to be insanely delicious. We started catering any and all events that came our way. We made customized menus for each client. This allowed me to explore every cuisine from French to Indian to modern American. I was happy with the food yet at the same time I wasn’t. I felt like a fraud, I felt that I was merely copying chefs of the past. Something needed to change.
For the next two years, I searching for a way to create a steak and potatoes dish without potatoes. My first rendition was pairing it with different flowers and mushrooms. Out to the woods, I went, exploring the mountains and meadows. While I was out there enjoying the fresh air, I meandered off the path just enough to see an abundance of other fantastic ingredients growing around Colorado. In the wetland, I found mint and watercress. On the hillsides and roadsides, I found many thistles and lamb’s quart. Mushrooms became a very common find. Discovering these wonderful ingredients made me wonder more about the cultures that shaped this region.
After all that I decided it would be ridiculous to try to reinvent, steak and potatoes it is too good of a pairing. But I needed to make a dish that represented Colorado and its abundant ingredients and culture. Other chefs have overlooked them, choosing instead to look at the trends of New York and California.
Inspired by an adventurous summer in the mountains, I decided to go for it: pursuing my unique style.I have made the decision to limit myself and cook only ingredients that have been grown or raised in the Rocky Mountain Region. Naturally, with this decision came the need to step away from lemons and Smoked lemonade.
Thistle and Mint is an honest and authentic representation of cuisine that comes from right here at home.