What are you excited about right now?
Every chef is really excited about spring coming. [Laughs.] But as far as cookery and things that I'm loving — a dish right now is mussels.
I never grew up with Eastern seafood. I grew up in Hawaii, so it was all fish and you know, a small amount of shellfish. So just that and cookery of mussels. I could eat mussels probably 50 ways. ... so when I do a special dish at home right now — or even at the restaurant, we have a killer mussel dish — every time I cook them I'm like, "Oh my gosh, I want to eat this right now."
What's the most unusual or odd ingredient you've had in your kitchen recently?
We're pretty straightforward here. I'd like to surprise everyone with something bizarre. But ... we have this smoked maple syrup that we're playing around with. It's not based out of Colorado, which I hate promoting it if it's not out of Colorado, but it's from Vermont and it's kinda crazy.
We do have 7X beef, which is a whole new Kobe beef line that we're bringing in to our restaurant that's been really amazing. It's this whole, 100-percent purebred Japanese, never been cross-bred with any of the Angus lines. And it's a beautiful meat. It's actually produced out in Paonia. ... They're all pasture-raised, they get finished on some grain, but it's just a neat new product, learning how to work with it. So for now we're working with their burgers. They're really delicious. The filet was probably the best filet I've ever had.
What was your best meal out last year?
I took a trip to Portland, and probably one of the best meals was a sandwich that we ordered from this place that delivers to your door. ... it was this tuna sandwich with a smoked olive tapenade, and it was just killer. It was like, oh my gosh, this is Portland. You can get gourmet food delivered to your door.
What do you think 2015 holds in terms of emerging food trends?
I really just think it's going to be a continual movement to more local produce and working with farmers more closely. I know that's the direction that we're moving. So as far as whether it's going to be the Cronut, or the stuffed cupcake, or whatever, I think a lot of it's just going to be a closer relationship with where the food comes from.
If farmers are coming out with a cool new cross-bred vegetable, great, we're gonna be using that. ... And just taking the old styles and traditions in food preparations and adapting them to some of the more healthy trends that we're having these days. Don't get me wrong — I love butter and I love pork, but if people are going to eat in your restaurant more often, I feel like they're gonna want it to be maybe a little bit more day-to-day healthy food.
What's your favorite foodie movie?
I don't even remember the name of it. But it was an old German — basically you know the movie No Reservations? It was a copycat. Cooking with Martha, or something like that. But really, that one, I think it was a great story with real-life people, and it was totally about food. I mean, [The Hundred-Foot Journey], I feel like was a fun movie, and made me want to live in France, but that German Martha movie ... Mostly Martha! That's it!
What's one book, recipe or blog, or otherwise, that's inspired your cooking?
I would say that one of the books I go back to, just to read for methodology and understanding, is Alice Waters' Chez Panisse. Her restaurant cookbook there. That's one I really like.