The highly anticipated arrival of Tupelo Honey Cafe in Spring of 2017 brings the talents of Chef Chris Kobayashi to Denver. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a two-time semifinalist for the James Beard “Best Chef Pacific” award, Chef Kobayashi fits well with Tupelo Honey’s belief in using local and sustainable food products on their menu.

Chef Kobayashi has been the Chef/Owner of Kitchenette and Artisan in California since 2006. Before that, he worked as Executive Chef and Executive Pastry Chef for Robin’s and Brix, also in California.

We were lucky enough to squeeze in a moment or two with the talented Chef to ask him a few questions as we prepare for the Tupelo Honey Cafe arrival in Denver in 2017.

So Chris, where are you from?

CK: Bishop, CA

What’s your favorite dish on the menu at Tupelo Honey and why?

CK: The fried chicken! Who doesn’t like crispy breading and skin?

What do you look for in a Sous Chef or teammate?

CK: Organization. Being organized is the key to any successful service. Front or back of house.

What’s your favorite ingredient to work with?

CK: Although there are many… my go to ingredients usually contain something cured or fermented. Something like miso or fermented chilies are readily accessible and add complexity and depth without [needing] a lot of ingredients.

Name the person you would most like to cook for and why?

CK: The person who I like cooking for the most is my 10-year-old son. Being in the industry it’s tough to get in some quality time. He’s at the age where he wants to participate in cooking and really gets into helping out. What’s really funny is when he goes to a sleepover and is trying to give his friend’s mom cooking tips on how to execute a better breakfast.

Do you have any kitchen/ restaurant pet peeves?

CK: When part of your team doesn’t work to the best of their ability. Everyone makes mistakes, but when someone doesn’t try, that’s just lazy.

What was your nickname at the restaurant (and how did you get it)?

CK: Koby. Short for Kobayashi. This name has followed me around from kitchen to kitchen. Since there are so many people with the name Chris, it’s always been a good shoe in. As a matter of fact, the Sous Chef’s name is Chris and the Executive Sous name is Crystal.

What’s the best and worst thing that Food Network has done for the industry?  

CK: There is no doubt that the Food Network has put the cooking industry in the spotlight. We were all just a bunch of misfits and a dysfunctional group of people. It was considered a second rate job that was for the lower socio-economic class. The Network broke the stigma and made chefs rock stars. Which was also the worst thing. Kitchens are a tough working environment and that is not what is portrayed on TV. However, the Network has elevated the craft and has made food a priority in many households. This country is based on so many cultures and the best way to portray our ethnicities is through food. Food Network has made this accessible and possible for chefs to make a living.

What did you have for dinner last night?

CK: Pork collar dumplings with first of the season sugar snap peas!!! And rice grits.

Last weekend on earth – what city are you eating in?

CK: On my last weekend? I would finish out in Hong Kong. Noodles, dumplings, chilies, fermented vegetables and did I mention dumplings? #dimsum #forever

If you got $5,000 how would you spend it?

CK: Let’s pretend I didn’t have a mountain of culinary school loans to pay off! I would definitely go on a trip to Asia and eat my way through. There definitely is a lot to be learned about food through experiencing different cultures. I feel that there is a lot that I could learn from the Asian cultures to incorporate techniques used in my own cooking style.

What are you reading now?

CK: Mostly trade publications in the form of magazines and net. *Lucky Peach! Food smut.

You can catch up with Chris and find out what he’s up to on Tupelo Honey’s Facebook and Instagram pages. Tupelo Honey will be bringing its long-awaited Southern Revival scratch-made menu to the Platform near Denver Union Station in May 2017. Stay tuned to Sirvo for hiring announcements and more on Tupelo’s locally sourced, seasonal menu and cocktails.

Interested in working for Tupelo Honey? Check out their open interviews!

When:     Daily 4/11/17 thru 4/21/17 @ 10:00am – 5:30pm
Where:    Tupelo Honey Southern Kitchen & Bar (1650 Wewatta St. Denver, CO 80202)

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