Mijo Chef and Co-owner
“I don’t cook very fancy at home. In fact, I don’t cook much at home—which is almost every chef ’s dirty little secret,” admits DePierro, whose restaurant, MiJo, offers Asian fusion dishes at Avanti Food and Beverage, the uber-popular “food collective” at 3200 Pecos St.
So, when he does fire up the Frigidaire gas range in the kitchen of his cozy cottage in Denver’s LoHi neighborhood, it’s likely to be a batch of his mother’s red beans and rice.
“This would be my death row meal, if it ever came to that,” DePierro says. “It’s on the menu every time she visits, and whenever I have friends over.”
DePierro grew up in New York, the son of a Puerto Rican mother and Italian father. “She’s the best cook I know,” he says, and the inspiration for his decision to become a chef. “Our house was always filled with the amazing smells from her kitchen. That’s how I learned to cook—by watching her.”
The family moved to El Paso, Texas, when DePierro was a sophomore in high school. He fell in love with Colorado after visiting a friend who was attending Colorado State University and made the Denver area his permanent home in 2000.
DePierro received his formal culinary training at the Art Institute of Denver.
His first job was at Aix, followed by stints at TAG, Row 14 and Bones, where he put in three years as executive chef before teaming with fellow Bones alum Michael Nevarez to open MiJo in May of 2015.
As for red beans and rice, DePierro says, “The magic happens in the pot. The longer it cooks, the better, but on average it takes an hour from start to finish.”
MOM’S RED BEANS AND RICE
3 cans kidney beans
3 cans tomato sauce
1 packet Goya Sazon
2 cups sofrito
2 cups salt pork, soaked overnight in water
1 large onion, diced
½ cup cilantro
4 cloves garlic
Render salt pork. When pork is caramelized, add onion and let it sweat. Once the onions have good color, add garlic and cook for a minute or two. Add beans, Sazon and tomato sauce. Reduce by one-third.
Serve with cooked rice.
Barolo Executive Chef
There’s rarely a quiet night at Barolo Grill, 3030 E. Sixth Ave., where the kitchen, headed by executive chef Darrel Truett, serves, on average, 120 discriminating diners on Tuesday through Thursday nights and 180 on Fridays and Saturdays.
“Not all executive chefs are hands-on,” he acknowledges, “but I think it’s important to be an active member of the team.”
Barolo’s kitchen springs to life at 5 a.m., when the bread-making, pasta-making and crew responsible for braising arrives. Truett gets there around noon to do the butchery and ensure every prep station is ready to go. A staff meal is served at 5 p.m. and service begins a half-hour later. From 5:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., he calls tickets, cooks and helps clean up.
“It makes for a very long day, but I think my guys appreciate it,” Truett says.
He begins to unwind on the drive back to his Aurora home. Once there, he relaxes further by walking his dogs, making a sandwich and watching a little TV.
Sundays are his one day off, and that’s when he likes to make his favorite mushroom pasta. “It’s tasty, easy and fast,” Truett says. “Plus, it makes the whole house smell good.”
“Sundays are important because that’s our family time,” the chef adds. “There’s my wife, Andi, who is also a good cook—her chili is my favorite and, in fact, I used her recipe for a chili cookoff where I came in second—and 16-year-old daughter, Taylen. She likes my pasta, along with her mother’s tacos and chili.”
3 cups seasonal mushrooms
¼ pound butter
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon chives
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon sage
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano (reserve a pinch for garnish)
1 pound fresh pasta noodles
Add half of the butter and half of the olive oil to a saute pan. When butter melts completely, add the mushrooms.
When mushrooms are cooked through, add fresh pasta to a pot of boiling water and let it cook for 45 seconds, then strain.
When mushrooms are Add the pasta to the saute pan, along with the remaining butter, chopped herbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
To finish, toss a ladle of the pasta water into the pan and mix all ingredients together. Garnish with a pinch of cheese and some olive oil.