My work is divided by processes and each one has it’s own artistic element. I love food as an art because it starts with the ingredient. Now that I'm living on the farm I get to see the artistry of creating the environment for these plants to grow. That’s been my favorite part, to go out and harvest. It’s like picking your paint colors, setting my palate for Bob Ross. We’re starting to collect rocks and different kinds of wood, so we get to plate things in our own decorative style. Even in one service the plating will change.
My art before I was doing food always started with a mistake, or a happy accident rather. I need some sort of chaotic initial thing to then refine afterwards. A sauce splatter, then you see where it is and you have a dollop of this puree and then a perfect little unripe spruce cone. You get into the tiny little details of the dish. When it comes out people are like I want to preserve this, but then they have to annihilate it and it’s gone forever and we get to keep doing it over and over. The impermanence of it is super cool.
What do you find humbling?
Seeing the amount that people really work. Now it’s not work it’s just what we do day to day and if what we’re doing is constructive all the time then we can build really amazing things.
The way nature works directly influences the way that we work. We can only get lilacs so long; we can only get this much of whatever it is so we have to really think outside the box.
How mycelium works in the forest. The way everything interacts with each other, animals, plants, insects. The processes are amazing. It’s really amazing to be able to be in a position to educate people on their surroundings. I feel like I'm not doing this quite enough justice because humbled is such a strong word that I feel everyday. That’s why we take this opportunity to run this restaurant so seriously. I've never felt so personally responsible for the kind of food that we’re putting out. Our vision is to really re-invent this system that has gotten totally fucked up, totally taken out of the traditional and necessary aspects of food and put into this convenient cheap, shitty version it is now. So I'm constantly humbled that I'm able to keep growing and doing something that is more deeply rooted and beneficial for our minds, our community and our soil.
How have you been conceptualizing your role in relationship to the people who you are going to be serving?
We’re stacking up the kitchen with a lot of employees so that the expo person can run food to bridge the gap of knowledge between servers and the full process behind the food. I want to convey how excited I am about my work. If you go to a museum and see all these people’s art on the wall, you try to envision how psyched they were making it, or their crazed mental state while making it. But food isn’t regarded as such.
How do you define success?
Being able to have my job be wholesomely constructive and then be able to make enough money to help other people accomplish the same thing. To pay you top-dollar for your work, what you really should be paid. I'm not working with farmers who are growing the most celery and onions, corn and soybeans, we’re using other flavors to create better dishes from things that thrive in Colorado that actually make the soil better. Something that is regenerative, a closed loop system that helps make everybody’s vision accomplishable.
I never expected any of this stuff, it’s always developing, it’s always getting better. Everyday we are the shittiest version of our future selves. I keep telling our staff we are at our shittiest right now. This is the least local we’re going to be right now, this is the shittiest food that we’re going to be putting out right now. We’re only going to keep getting better.
What are you most thankful for?
Every part of the process I'm grateful for. We just want to cherish the things that are really good and help people progress and not continue doing the things that are tearing down our society and our world. I wouldn’t be as much of myself without all the people I've met along the way. That’s where I think this process has been exponential because I spent the first 22 years of my life being so ignorant to so many things. You don’t know what you don’t know until you realize you know nothing. That’s been the most fascinating part. I'm grateful to know of all the things that I would otherwise not know. I feel like our collective consciousness has grown so much.
My last question is what is beauty to you?
Oh my god. It’s hard to not see beauty in everything here. That’s what’s been fueling so much of this. It’s also what I'm grateful for. The plants are beautiful, the ways people grow them are beautiful. The work ethic. Every step in the process is its own form of beauty- the pain is beautiful, the cuts and the burns. The true depth of what we are actually doing. Because in all actuality we are such a small footprint in time, in the grand scheme of the universe. It’s not really that important. But it’s fucking beautiful and it’s fun.