This week we post a few questions we asked Chef Bob Blair of Fuel Café after our dinner there with Hush Denver.
1. What attracted you to cooking?
Process of elimination and stubbornness. I thought I was always supposed to go to college. I failed miserably as a student. I am actually pretty smart, I just hate to study. After being in college for 7 years without a degree, I finally quit school and started waiting tables and cooked for friends and family. I was catering a few parties from my home when a friend said his dad wanted me to move out of Colorado and open a restaurant for him. I had no idea why someone who never ran a restaurant would be asked to do it now. He said, I have seen your work ethic and the way people react to your food. That is all I need to know that you have some serious potential in a kitchen.
The stubborn side of me would never let me listen to my Mom or old girlfriends when they suggested I go to cooking school, or try cooking as a profession.
They eventually wore me down though.
2. What is the philosophy behind your cooking, or in your kitchen?
Never be afraid to try something. Always be fearless about new techniques, cuisines and especially about contributing ideas. Everyone in the Fuel kitchen has to come with ideas. Just dont take it personally when we shoot them down. We are always trying to bring something interesting to the table, try not to bring trends, or the same old same old.
3. What is the biggest influence on the way you cook?
Sentimentality. I selfishly cook to transport myself to Italy, Spain, France, or my Mom's kitchen. I dont get to travel much these days, so I cook to take myself there. My parents died about ten years ago, and I always have something on the menu that reminds me of them.
4. Is there a chef living today you would like to work with? and why?
Pep Manubens of Cal Pep in Barcelona. He cooks the purest Spanish food I have ever eaten. My wife and I honeymooned in Spain. We spent our first few days in Barcelona, and went to Cal Pep. It was amazing. We then traveled up north to San Sebastien and when we came back to Barcelona, we went straight back to Cal Pep. He is probably 65 years old now and still works the bar, waiting on customers and cooking at the bar too. I will never forget the baby squid with lentils, cooked in squid ink. One of my most powerful flavor memories.
5. Is there a particular ingredient you like to cook with more than others?
Whatever I did not cook with yesterday. I hate leftovers, I hate cooking the same thing day after day. I always want to cook something new and interesting.
6. If stuck on a desert isle and could have one meal from then on out what would it be?
Homemade pasta with Ragu Bolognese
7. Is someone asked you for two Colorado restaurants to try other than your own what would you suggest?
Z Cuisine and Six 89 in Carbondale
8. How about one restaurant any where in the world?
Arzak in Spain. Most people think Ferren Adria started the contemporary Spanish movement. Juan Marie Arzak came first. Ferran Adria may have taken it to a whole different level, but Juan Marie is the man.
9. What do you think about the Hush dining concept of going to different location types for their meal events?
I love Hush. I dont like going back to the same restaurant on a regular basis, I hate eating the same thing day after day. Hush is ideal for me. I love the mystique, the surprise, and especially the willingness of the guests to trust us as cooks, and Phil and Chance, and their crew to prepare an experience for you.
Thanks for visiting our food blog. If you have any questions, you can leave comments here or email us at jonathan or email@example.com.
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