"Ask a Chef" is part of an on-going series in which 5280 poses a single question to a local culinary luminary.
It's not every day that an executive chef in Denver obtains his title by winning a Food Network show, but that is exactly how Boulder native Jason Brumm returned to his home state and took command of Cherry Creek's Second Home Kitchen & Bar. After working in Michelin-starred spots in France and Italy and opening restaurants in Washington, D.C. and Nashville, Brumm agreed to compete on Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell last year. He taped the show in August, won, and began cooking at Second Home in September as the show aired. Brumm chatted with 5280 about his favorite cuisine to cook (southeast Asian) and what type of restaurant he'd like to open next (a fast-casual pizzeria), but we thought a behind-the-scenes peek at a cooking show set was the most revealing.
5280: Is competing on a cooking show as stressful as it looks?
Jason Brumm: It was pretty stressful. There are two timed challenges, and you have a specific amount of time to prep all your dishes. But they embellish a little during. Like when the servers dropped a tray of plates—no one really dropped the plates, they told them to do that. They wanted to create a little drama. They’re like, “No, get mad!” Most restaurant services don't make very interesting television. We stay pretty calm, cool, and organized. Especially when you're on the show, you have it all together, but they gotta throw some speed bumps in there.
The lamb challenge was probably the most interesting. You get an idea of what you’re going to do be doing, but no direction on what they’re looking for or what it is. They ask you what your favorite cuts of lamb are, you give them a list, and then they give everyone their least favorite. And then you deal with it. The other hard part is you’re in a brand-new environment. You only have one burner, or the burners in the back don’t work as well as the ones up front. You have to hold this button down a little longer over here. It’s used equipment. Restaurants aren’t known for their high maintenance budgets. The subtleties of a new environment are always a challenge.
150 Clayton St., 303-253-3000
—Image courtesy of Second Home Kitchen + Bar