There's a guy we call Underbite, who lives in the neighborhood near Thirty Acres and rides a fold-up bicycle.
I don't give a fuck if he hears this or read this.
He came in during the first couple of weeks of opening and asked to sit down, but we weren't able to because we were so busy. We asked him to wait, and he got so aggressive with my wife Alex and called her a "fucking bitch," so we were like, 'Get this guy out of here.' Then, a year later, he showed up again, and I was like, "Dude, you're not ever going to eat here," and he freaked out, cussed up a storm, yelled, and was saying how he'd eaten all over the world at all these amazing places, had smoked pheasant under a glass cloche, and we were like, What the fuck is up this guy? Finally, he left again. But I see him all over the neighborhood—probably two times a week—all the time. He always calls me "Chef," which drives me batshit crazy.
He came back again with his parents, and at this point I was like, "I'm going to let you sit because it's been a couple years. You can sit at the bar, because we are fully booked for reservations." He got all upset again, that we were going to make his 90-year-old mother sit at the bar, so he pitched another fit. I threw him out. Again. Somehow he's just always around the neighborhood, calling me "Chef" and biking around with his gnarly underbite like a complete lunatic and I can't seem to rid him from my life.
Underbite has never taken a bite of any of my food.
I never intended to do this with my life. I never thought about owning a restaurant, and my college career wasn't focused on it in any way. I never thought beyond the week I was in. I got involved in working in the restaurant business because I thought it would be smart to have a set of skills I could take with me anywhere—you know, that industry job stability.
I was most interested in it from a trade standpoint than a craft one. I think as I got more involved in the industry, I became more intrigued by it. And it really started out during my time at Craft Bar, like my first real restaurant job outside of making sandwiches or washing dishes or delivering pizza. And that's when I learned how much harder it was than I thought it was going to be, which was really frustrating.
I was a competitive person growing up. I was an athlete, which is where my love of Larry Bird came about. I always thought that since I was a capable athlete, it was crazy to me how hard working as cook was, and the thought that it was so difficult was crazy to me. It frustrated me. In the beginning, I really stuck with it, because I was like, There's no fucking way I'm not going to be able to do this, I have to do this. I was self-motivated to be good at it because being a competent line cook is really hard.
It's demanding, and there's an extreme amount of pressure. Being older, getting yelled at, and being told that you know nothing was extremely frustrating. Initially, that was a huge, driving force to get me on track. Eventually, I started to really enjoy it once I had stable footing and a handle on my skills.
In high school, I never felt that my coach had also been a player. He wasn't on the team and he wasn't showing his skills. Maybe because I was younger, I felt like my coach was ancient, even if he was 40. I always had the feeling that my chef was always significantly better than me because they had definitely done it, and had really proven themselves. It always felt like the chefs I worked for had put the time in because they had gone through what I was going through. My chef was like a coach, but not necessarily as concretely comparable, because when I played sports as a kid, there was a divide with the coach. My chef and I were closer in age, but he just yelled at me.
Now I've got a guy named Alan who works in the kitchen with me. He's turning 22 but started out at Thirty Acres at a very young age—maybe at 18. Now we're the only two working in the kitchen. We've figured out how to narrow the staff down since we are a 30-seat restaurant and are running a tasting menu. We have a prep guy, a dishwasher, and Alan and I run every service five nights a week. He started off with zero restaurant experience and now he's just amazing. We always play Drake—his song that's like,"running through the six with my woes," and we also listen to a lot of Big Sean. It sounds so old person-y, but I get to find out what's new and current from Alan, which is fun, because he's really got his finger on the pulse of the rap scene. We also like this rapper, Mad Fanatic, who raps exclusively about the Denver Broncos. For something that's so specific, they're actually not bad, and extremely catchy to the point that I put one on my dining room playlist.