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.
This weekend's dinner will be prepared by Jeff Osaka, the chef and owner of Twelve Restaurant. In our interview, he gave us a teaser a possible addition to Denver's ramen offerings, and a lengthy list of soon-to-open restaurants we should all be on the look out for.
How did you become a chef? By accident, actually. I was dining at a restaurant in LA and asked if they were hiring. They handed me an application and told me to come back the next day. I was there the next day, application in hand, and had a hour conversation with the chef— most chefs don't have 10 minutes, let alone a entire hour to just chat. He hired me on the spot, no experience, just a passion for food.
What cooking style are you the most passionate about? I'm a bit old school. A good roast chicken or slow-braised meats really speak comfort to me.
And how do you apply that cooking style at your current restaurant? With our monthy changing menus it makes it easy to keep the menu fresh and interesting.
How would you describe Denver's (or Colorado's) food scene? Progressive. What has happened in the five years I've been here is amazing, and what I see in the coming years is exciting. New restaurants opening, new concepts, a new generations of chefs and owners. Denver is constantly moving forward.
What restaurants in Colorado are you most looking forward to trying? My list is quite long. I'm ashamed to say I haven't tried Barolo. Other restaurants that are highly anticipated are Stoic & Genuine and Mercantile Dining & Provision in Union Station. Cart Driver from chef Kelly Whitaker. Guard & Grace. Chef Frank Bonanno's Salt & Grinder... I told you my list was long!
You can have one food-related super power. What is it? To be a mindreader, because sometimes my guests don't speak up when dining. it's easier to fix an issue on the spot than to read it on some site a few days later.
2014 will be the year of the... ramen... more news on that to follow.
So why cook at Great Roads To Great Chefs? I've have never been to the Stanley Hotel, and when I was asked to cook there I didn't hesitate. To able to showcase my food in such a historical setting is an honor, and the icing on the cake is that proceeds go to flood relief.
What do you plan to make? I haven't written the menu yet.
What will you do with the percentage of the dinner's proceeds that you get? Most of the costs to go food and labor. I don't pay myself for things like this. It's the ability to help others who can't help themselves— that's important.
What are you most looking forward to about your stay at the Stanley Hotel? Just being up there. Maybe I can take the famous ghost tour.
[Photo courtesy Jeff Osaka]
· Great Roads To Great Chefs [Official Website]
· Table For Flood Relief: Great Roads To Great Chefs [EDen]
· Ryan Leinonen on the New Patio For Trillium Fund
· Geoff Rhyne on The Wave of Butcher Shops and The Throwback [EDen]
· Orlando Benavidez Wants Go Go Gadget Arms [EDen]
· Drew Hardin on Colorado's Supportive Chefs and Stopping Time [EDen]
· Alec Schuler On Northern Italian Cooking and Tangerine Two [EDen]
· Ian Kleinman On Chef Dreams and Science As A Food Tool [EDen]