This is the second part of our post for our meal at Fruition restaurant in Denver where we asked Chef Alex Seidel a few questions and he was nice enough to even gicve us a recipe to share with you.
Below is a picture of the chef.
1. What attracted you to cooking? At age 14, I started working in kitchens washing dishes and light prep work. When I went to college, I played soccer and the job that fit my free time was night cook. I started at a nice trattoria in Wisconsin. There I had two chefs that had worked in California and they introduced me to simple things like fresh herbs, stocks, and sauces. It was the opportunity to work with these guys and learn about food that I had never been introduced to in Wisconsin. I was hungry for more information. As my love grew for food, I wanted to focus more on it. So I quit college 30 credits shy and saved money to attend culinary school. I have been traveling, eating, and working ever since.
2. What is the philosophy behind your cooking, or in your kitchen? Whenever I interview someone, one of the first things I share is my philosophy on food and cooking. Most people that I know who love to cook enjoy everything from the shopping to the prepping to cooking and finally seeing the reaction once you serve your food. In the restaurant world sometimes the fun is taken out of it. Stressed out chefs, budgets are tight, employee relations, and a lot of other things that make the restaurant business tough. Through all that, I really try to create a culture that is a positive environment. My cooks and I share many laughs. We talk about food and why things work and why they don't. I hire based on attitude and work ethic, not experience. That way we can learn from each other-together. We are always trying to better understand our craft of cooking food. We don't have the pressure of brain surgery or rocket science. We are applying heat to proteins and vegetables. The bottom line is-if you love cooking-enjoy it and lets have pride in what we do and push ourselves to put out the best possible food that we can. We don't compete with other restaurants, we compete everyday with ourselves.
3. What is the biggest influence on the way you cook? Obviously, it is hard to not be influenced by myself. I love food and I also know what I like to eat. Although, in the restaurant business I am not cooking for myself. The customer and the demand from the customer is what influences the way I cook. I think people want to enjoy good food. Sometimes it is hard to find good food without going to a white tablecloth establishment and ordering the 10 course pre-fix. Trust me, I love to eat like that, but it is for a very small niche of people. I try to serve people food that they understand, that is approachable, and that they enjoy for a very reasonable price. I feel very good about the quality, technique, and seasonal approach that we take with our food
4. Is there a chef living today you would like to work with? Umm, yeh a few. There are so many great chefs in the world today. I have dined in many of there restaurants. I worked for Hubert Keller when I was in California but never for any other celebrity chefs. Thomas Keller, Eric Ripert, Jean-George, Daniel Bolud, Grant Achutz-just to name a few. These guys have unbelievable talent and knowledge. It would be an honor to work with these guys
5. Is there a particular ingredient you like to cook with more than others? I do like to cook with offal’s. Taking scrap and parts of animals that people don't think of using and turning that into something delicious is rewarding to me. When it comes to most things though, I always like change. People always ask "what is your favorite thing to cook?" and my response has always been I don't have a favorite dish-I like to create new dishes.
6. If stuck on a desert isle and could have one meal from then on out what would it be? Well's Brothers Pizza. It is a little Italian family-owned pizzaria in Wisconsin. It's the only thing I have to eat when I go back home for visits. Thin semolina crust with a sweet oregano flavor in the sauce. It is so good. You can take the boy out of Wisconsin but not the Wisconsin out of the boy
7. Is someone asked you for two Colorado restaurants to try other than your own what would you suggest? Frasca in Boulder and the Little Nell in Aspen.
8. How about one restaurant any where in the world? El Bulli in Spain
9. Would you be willing to share a recipe with us? Of course. I am not a really good recipe guy. We try to understand the fundamentals of cooking and why things are balanced. So I try to get my chefs to cook from the heart. I do have a couple of recipes and you are welcome to them all.
Fruition’s Potato Wrapped Oyster Rockefeller Recipe
Recipe Makes 45 oysters
4ea Russet potato (large)
3# Baby Spinach
1# Naturally Smoked Bacon
¼cu Sherry Vinegar
2cu Parmesan-Leek Emulsion (recipe follows)
Russet Potato-Colorado Grown in San Luis Valley (certified organic and non-irradiated)
Cut three potatoes lengthwise right down the middle. Working from the middle, with skin still on, thinly slice the potato to about the thickness of a potato chip. Make 45 center-cut chips and hold in cold water. Blanch potatoes in salted boiling water for one minute or just until you can roll the potato without it snapping. Shock in an ice bath, strain, and pat dry.
Oysters-West Coast Variety (preferably Hama-Hama)
Shuck oysters making sure there is no shell debris left over. Roll the oyster in the potato and secure with a toothpick. Fry in peanut oil at 350 degrees for two minutes or until the potato is golden and crispy.
Cube bacon and render it over medium heat. Pour off excess bacon fat and add the spinach leaves. Wilt the spinach and finish with sherry vinegar, salt, and pepper.
9ea Leeks (medium dice)
1ea Yellow onion (medium dice)
1ea Russet potato (peeled and large diced)
½cu white wine
½qt heavy cream
1bu Italian Parsley (finely chopped)
Sweat onion and leeks until translucent. Add the remaining russet potato and deglaze with white wine. Reduce the wine until almost gone and add the heavy cream. Cook the potato in the liquid mixture and use it as a natural thickener for the emulsion. Finish with parmesan, parsley, salt, and pepper. Puree in a blender and hold warm for service.
As always thanks for coming by the blog and if you have any questions or thoughts feel free to leave a comment or email us at barb or jonathan @milehigheater.com.
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