Welcome back to the Table For Flood Relief series, where Eater interviews the guests chefs slated to cook at The Stanley Hotel's Great Roads To Great Chefs dinners. There is a different chef for every dinner, with a roster of chefs from Denver, Boulder, and beyond.
Executive chef Drew Hardin of Lola is a Denver restaurant veteran, with 14 years of cooking experience, notably at The Palace Arms, Vesta Dipping Grill, Steuben's and Deluxe. He's planning a Mexican-inspired dinner with sous chef Orlando Benevidez and pastry ched Xan Lynch for Great Roads to Great Chefs this weekend, February 21 and 22. Click here to make reservations.
How did you become a chef? I started working in restaurants when I was 15. I then went away to college to play soccer and study zoology. I skied and had way too much fun and stopped going to classes. I decided to take a year off, but my parents wanted no part of that, so they cut me off. I worked in two restaurants in Durango just to pay rent. After about two years, I decided that I could make a career out of this, so I decided to go to culinary school. I've worked in many well known restaurants in Denver, and fourteen years later, here I am
What cooking style are you the most passionate about? I love to cook and eat Mexican food, and I love all types of seafood.
And how do you apply that cooking style at your current restaurant? We are a Mexican Fish house, so it works out perfectly.
How would you describe Denver's (or Colorado's) food scene? Colorado's food scene is very supportive. Everyone knows everyone. It seems like every week someone is opening a new restaurant, and every chef in Denver is excited to see that, and also wants to see them succeed. It can be competitive, but I don't think there is any other city that has that camaraderie that Denver has in supporting each other.
What restaurants in Colorado are you most looking forward to trying? Acorn— I am ashamed that I have not been in yet. I feel like a jerk, sorry Amos.
You can have one food-related super power. What is it? I would love to be able to be everywhere at one time, to make sure things are being executed correctly. That or to stop time, there is never enough time in the day.
2014 will be the year of the... Greatest Cinco de Mayo celebration ever put on by Lola. It is the 5th annual Picnic of the Pig with guest chefs, Brandon Foster from Vesta being one of them. If you have not attended one, it is a party to remember. I promise you that.
So why cook at Great Roads To Great Chefs? It's a good cause, and I want to cook at a historic landmark. I also want to show people outside of Denver what Lola can do.
What do you plan to make? To tell you the truth, the menu is not finalized at this moment, I just have too many things I want to do. But I can tell you we will have some kick ass Mexican-inspired food that is influenced from regions like Yucatan, Vera Cruz, and Oaxaca. It's going to be good.
What will you do with the percentage of the dinner's proceeds that you get? I didn't know I was even getting anything, so I have not thought about it…
What are you most looking forward to about your stay at the Stanley Hotel? I hear it's haunted— I have never seen a ghost, but would like to. No, but really, a weekend cooking in the mountains with some other great chefs by my side. Sous chef Orlando Benevidez, and Pastry Chef Xan Lynch are joining me, it is always fun with them along. Plus my wife will be there to keep me safe if I do see one of the fabled ghosts.
Stay tuned for a Table For Flood Relief interview with Orlando Benevidez.
Drew Hardin [Lola]