Brandon Biederman – I Can’t Cook Mexican Food

June 23rd, 2010 Posted by Chefs, Culinary Connectors, Denver, Food Cart, Uncategorized 3 comments

I love tattooed badass chefs. Even better is a tattooed badass chef that drives a food truck. Brandon Biederman fits the bill perfectly. Brandon is the executive chef at Steubens Restaurant. This summer you will find him behind the wheel of the Steubens food truck.

The Steubens Truck serves a small menu made up of burgers, fries and deep fried pork rolled in powdered sugar. I call the pork crack but Steubens, being more PC, calls them Steubie Snacks. For dessert the truck offers cookies and cupcakes. You can follow Brandon and the truck on Facebook and Twitter. Lately they’ve been dishing up eats at Civic Center Park.

Brandon Biederman graduated from culinary school and immediately went to work at Tommy Tsuami’s. He became an executive chef at age 22 which he acknowledges was young and very overwhelming.

At the time he was getting seafood from the same supplier as Vesta Dipping Grill. “I had enough at Tommy’s and someone told me that Matty (Matt Selby) was hiring a line cook. I went for an interview, quit Tommy’s and started the next day at Vesta. That kind of stuff happens more often in the industry than you would think.”

“The Grill is my favorite station because you are in control of the kitchen It’s the power station. I used to strive on the stress of service. Now I stress about what is coming off my line cook’s stations.”

Brandon stayed at Vesta for 6 years before he “jumped ship” to Steubens. “I left Vesta because I needed to do something new. Steubens has been open 2 plus years now. It’s amazing that it’s been that long. I still remember doing tastings at 8 a.m. in the morning at Vesta because that’s the only time any of us had to come up with the menu for Stuebens.”


On being an Executive Chef:
I try to talk with all my cooks to make sure that everyone is happy. I currently have 32 employees in the kitchen and four Sous chefs. They are my right hands. Last week we broke the record number of covers in one day at Steubens. We did 1,182!


How has the menu at Steubens evolved?
It really doesn’t change much. I will change the sides and the braise but other than that it’s pretty much the same.


On Steubens:
Steubens is one of those restaurants that have a huge dynamic of guests. It’s a diverse group of people, younger, older, families, people on dates, people wanting to try Sean’s cocktails. I like cooking accessible food. It’s a take on the food we grew up with. People like to criticize us because we’re cooking the classics and sometimes that doesn’t translate exactly the way they had it as kids. That’s challenging. I like to take dishes we had growing up and put a little spin on them, stylize a bit. I think that the fusion influence from Vesta is obvious. Sometimes I come up with a new menu item and then realize I can’t put it on because it’s just too out there for Steubens. It gets too fancy quickly.


Challenges
: I can’t cook Mexican food. You will never see Mexican food on the menu at Steubens because it’s done better at other restaurants in Denver. My dishwashers will make Mexican food for staff meal and I just wish mine would turn out as well as theirs does.


On Marriage
: I’ve been married for 7 years. When I was single I would go out with Wade (Executive Chef at Vesta) and we would rage. Now I have two kids and I live in Arvada. Luckily my wife works for Steubens too and even though it’s challenging we are making this whole restaurant/kids thing work for us.


Ink:
Good Food tattooed across my knuckles. In other places – morel mushrooms, the trinity (carrots, onion and celery) and a kitchen knife.


Favorite Chefs:
Denver is full of good chefs. I call on Jamey Fader at Lola more and more. He has a grasp on everything, work and family life. He’s a good guy. I also really like James Rugile from Venue. He worked at Vesta for a while.


Favorite Restaurant:
Frasca. It’s comfortable and not stuffy. The burger at My Brother’s Bar is awesome too.


What he would like to put on the menu:
Gravy fries with fois gras.


Biggest trends:
Farm to Table, whole animal, back to basics and food trucks. “Everyone is just cooking again,” he says. Regarding farm to table, Brandon tries to do as much of that as possible at Steubens. “It’s hard to use small purveyors all the time,” he says, “we go through 200 dozen eggs each weekend just for brunch.”


Favorite Cookbook:
Au Pied De Couchon. The chef is from Montreal. He does whole animal, classic French Canadian food in a homey way. He believes in canning, preserving and pickling. This book embodies what Steubens is all about.


If money was no object where would he eat:
Daniel, Le Bernardin, Per Se and the French Laundry.


Best Meal Ever:
There were two. The first was dining at the Chefs Table at Charlie Trotters. We had 15 courses over 6 hours. The second was Fleur De Lys in San Francisco. We did a crazy tasting menu and drank espresso with Chef Hebert Keller in the kitchen.


Spare time:
I play with my kids, ride my bike and play music. I don’t have too much time for anything else. Steubens is like my third child.


Last meal he cooked at home:
I roasted a 100 lb pig for my daughter’s birthday.


What he would like to see in Denver:
Something like Blue Ribbon in New York City; a place for chefs to hang out and eat bone marrow late night.

Follow the Steubens truck on Facebook and Twitter. Go see Chef Biederman and try the crack….I mean the Steubie Snacks. Or check out the menu at the restaurant and sample cocktails from award winning mixologist Sean Kenyon. Steubens – 523 E. 17th Ave. in Denver. 303-830-1001.

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