“Ask a Chef” is part of an on-going series in which 5280 poses a single question to a local culinary luminary.

When chef Jeff Bolton was named executive chef of Kachina Southwestern Grill in June, he had already spent several months overseeing the kitchen and assisting in the development of the Westminster eatery’s concept. Since taking over, Bolton has prioritized relationships with local farms and ranchers in order to access the freshest ingredients for his recipes. He demonstrated this effort with Kachina’s recent Beast & Beer dinners, which featured locally sourced meat carefully paired with Colorado brews. In between planning, cooking, and pairing, Bolton talked to us about a defining element of Kachina’s Southwestern fare.

5280: Which ingredient is the most fundamental to your kitchen?

JB: We use a ton of different chiles. I wouldn’t say that one is more important than the next. They’re not in everything, but it’s a very important ingredient for sure. We have habaneros, poblanos, pasillas, jalapeños, serranos, and also dry chiles like chipotles, moritas, and guajillos. One of our number-one selling items is a Christmas-style stacked enchilada, with green and the red [chile] sauces. Just in the green sauce alone there are jalapeños, poblanos, and Anaheims. The red chile sauce has New Mexico chile peppers and whole New Mexico red chiles. Just in that one dish, there five different chiles. My favorite chiles are chipotle and moritas, because I like the smokiness of them. They have this smoky flavor, and they’re not too overly spicy.

10600 Westminster Boulevard (inside the Westin Hotel), 303-410-5813