Denver native Francisco Quintana started his journey as a busboy at the Denver Zoo to Executive Chef at the Appaloosa Grill by, in his own words, “Working my way up through local kitchens the hard way.”
“Food takes us on a journey,” he continued, “From my grandmother’s kitchen to Sunday dinners, we all come together around food.”
What brought you to the Appaloosa Grill?
FQ: I recently left the corporate chef world for something smaller and more meaningful. As Executive Chef for Appaloosa Grill, I have found a great environment to grow and explore.
Who are some of your culinary influences?
FQ: Bourdain, of course. I cook what I like to eat, I read a lot, and I enjoy trying new restaurants. My chef team at the Appaloosa Grill, as well as a friendly competition with a friend of mine that’s a chef back in Chicago, really motivates me to be better.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
FQ: The satisfied guests and the instant gratification. You know right away if you hit the right spot. There’s no hiding, it is either good or not.
Do you have a favorite cooking style?
FQ: Fusion. I like to take my culture and the Mexican flavors I grew up with and bring them together with other cultures. I learned from great chefs, and I blended their techniques to fit me.
What is your advice to someone just coming up in the restaurant industry?
FQ: Make sure your heart is in it. There are long hours of blood, sweat, and tears. You are only as good as your last service, so yesterday doesn’t matter.
You’ve got one person to cook for, dead or alive, who would it be?
FQ: I would love to cook with my grandma Alice. I wish I would have paid more attention while I was a kid.