Jeff Mahony, Table Mountain Grill & Cantina
Serving in both a front-of-house capacity as well as chef, Jeff Mahony has over 25 years of experience in the fine dining domain. He brings a well-rounded repertoire of culinary arts to the table, along with a passion for seafood preparation. Chef Mahony joined Concept Restaurant group in 2016 as Executive Chef at Stout Street Social. Since then, he has led teams in 3 other Concept restaurants, including his current home since 2018, Table Mountain Grill & Cantina in Golden, CO.
What makes the atmosphere at Table Mountain Inn special?
JM: Table Mountain Inn is a unique and iconic boutique hotel on Golden’s downtown main strip. The Inn offers warm mountain hospitality and stays true to the historic spirit of Golden in its décor, menu, and traditions. I love the challenge of creating a menu and dishes for the Grill & Cantina that support and reflect the Inn’s Southwestern ambiance.
What inspires you as a Chef?
JM: In the kitchen, two things inspire me most. First, I love to see the reactions people have, and the expressions on their faces, when they taste the food I’ve created. For me, it’s all about making people feel good; I want them to be happy and enjoy the entire dining experience.
Second, I also value the ability and opportunity to lead people and teach the next generation of cooks aspiring to be chefs. I believe in the value of excellent food and exceptional hospitality. I’m passionate about training the next generation of chefs to uphold these beliefs.
What are some of your culinary influences?
JM: My culinary influences are broad and diverse. I appreciate Jacques Pepin for his elegant, traditional French methods. I look to Emeril Lagasse for his fun and whimsical approach to flavorful cuisine. And, I value Justin Wilson for his use of simple ingredients.
Of course, now that I have focused on Mexican and Southwestern dishes for almost two years, I admire Rick Bayless for his unabashed and passionate interpretations of elegant yet straightforward Mexican cuisine.
What part of your job do you enjoy most?
JM: It’s hard to pinpoint a favorite part of my job. But I’d have to say it can be summed up in one word: “People.” It’s all about the people. I love watching people enjoy themselves at the table. I regularly interact with them and love hearing about their dining experiences. I aspire to create memories with them at a table.
What is one thing you wish you knew earlier in your career?
JM: I wish I’d had a better grasp, in my early career, of the multiple hats a chef wears. On TV, a chef’s life is glamorous; it’s creative and artistic. But in reality, a chef’s life is dirty; it’s sweaty and requires long hours. Being a chef involves human resource skills, knowledge of economics, and purchasing logic. It’s not glamorous, but it sure is fun!
What is your advice to someone starting out in the restaurant industry?
JM: Know that you will work hard. Also, know the hard work is worth it in the end. If you believe in and are comfortable with the concept that your job is never done, you’ll be just fine.
Do you have a favorite cooking style?
JM: Though born in California, I grew up in Germany. My heritage has a special place in my heart, so I love to make German dishes. I prepare these mostly for friends and family since those dishes remind me of home.
Also, I genuinely love to cook seafood. Most people think seafood is hard to cook (well), that there is some secret to making it the right way. However, it really isn’t that challenging. Seafood is versatile, quick, and delicious.
What is your favorite comfort food to cook for yourself or a loved one?
JM: Something like a stew represents comfort food to me. Stew is shareable. I like to take the simple concept of a stew like your grandma used to make, then give it a twist; give it some flair. Put that on some nice rice or a good homemade pasta. Now all you need is a good glass of wine and great conversation. That, for me, is the perfect evening.