Where are you from?
I was born in North Platte, Nebraska. We moved to Montana when I was about two, then to Ft. Collins when I was about three, and I grew up in Parker. I lived in Portland, Oregon; I call it my sabbatical because it was very brief. Then I moved back to Boulder when I was twenty, went to school at CU Boulder, lived there until I was about twenty-seven, then moved to Denver. I’ve been in Denver for almost seven years.
What did you study in school?
I studied Fine Arts. I got my BFA, and my focus was in ceramics. That’s what I thought I wanted to do. I studied with really amazing people; really cool, awesome, smart, lovely professors. It was kind of tough to keep ceramics going, so I went back to my first love: jewelry. I got to do a little bit of silversmithing when I was in high school, and not long after I started at The Kitchen in Boulder, I got an apprenticeship with Angie Starr and I’ve done a couple of small freelancing projects for Shawn Hecox at The Woods here in Denver. I had a big embroidery phase too, it was pretty extensive.
It sounds like you have an eye for design?
Yeah, I think so. I studied and I worked with really cool people for a while. Being around people like Hugo who have an amazing eye for design is one of the reasons why I love working here. To be in this environment every day…it’s beautiful.
How did you make your way into the food & beverage industry?
Before I worked at The Kitchen, I worked at a little coffee shop in Boulder called Allison. I helped open the coffee shop, and we used Conscious Coffees. Allison asked me to be the manager, which is hilarious. I totally jumped at the chance. That’s where I met Mark and Mel at Conscious Coffees. At the time, my friend Burton Daniel worked at The Kitchen. I would go and have brunch when he was working, and he would say that he didn’t want to work brunch anymore. I was like, “uh, really? Well, I can make coffee better than you can make coffee, and I know Mark & Mel.” So, luckily I got that job. I didn’t know anything about beer. I didn’t know anything about wine. I didn’t know much about spirits at all. I knew how to make coffee, and I was willing to work brunch. I started learning about purveyors, about the farmers, the produce, the animals, and the foraging guy who’d show up for a couple of weeks. Building those relationships I found super satisfying. I still do. Thank you Ray Decker for hiring me.
Can you talk about your personal philosophies surrounding hospitality?
We’ve been talking a lot about this recently. What’s the difference between service and hospitality? Service has to do with being technically correct. Hospitality is treating everyone who walks thorough the door like it’s their party. The goal is to create a unique experience and we strive for that every single
day. Approaching every guest with that same mentality is what hospitality means to me. It’s not just a dinner out. It’s a memory.
Tell me about your love of beer?
Beer is my passion. Ray taught us so much in Boulder and I’m so grateful for that because I wouldn’t be where I am now without him. His foresight in creating the beer program was super ahead of the game. A few weeks ago I was up in Ft. Collins and I met Tim from Horse & Dragon. They just opened up about two months. We went and visited him at his brewery, he and his wife opened it, it felt really special.
How is The Kitchen Denver different from its sister restaurants?
The size of our space is enormous. It’s about three times the size of Boulder. We’ve got more of that city feel and do a lot of special events down here. There are little bits of Boulder that I see shine through, die-hard regulars coming in who we love. I think we’ve cultivated a really awesome crew, really great staff, and I think service more and more has just been really excellent, caring and thoughtful. I’m excited to see how the next 5 years go, in Denver specifically. It’s crazy, how much it’s blown up since we’ve been here. It’s been really cool to watch that develop.