A map of downtown Denver

Published on June 2016 | Categories: Types, Government & Politics | Downloads: 15 | Comments: 0 | Views: 172
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A map of downtown Denver

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Chipotle
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And more…and more…and more. There are currently 1,450 Chipotle locations spanning the globe, with more — hundreds more — on the horizon. And while Ells has added another fast-food concept to his repertoire, an Asian restaurant called ShopHouse, he’s backed away from his initial dream of opening an upscale restaurant. “People often ask me if I’ll ever open that restaurant,” he muses. “I have no plans for that now. We’re completely focused on our larger mission of providing sustainably raised ingredients in an accessible format. I think we’re having much more of an impact with the Chipotle concept than if I’d stuck to my original plan.” And while Chipotle is an extremely straightforward concept, Ells emphasizes that his fundamental convictions are the same as they would be for fine dining, despite the detour to a fast-food empire. “The key is using really beautiful ingredients — and this idea of taking a very simple ingredient and making it something that’s more extraordinary is a theme at Chipotle,” he says. A Chipotle kitchen functions like that of a bona fide fine-dining restaurant, he notes: “There’s constantly meats on the grill, always some beans simmering on the stove, vegetables sautéeing in the pan, whole avocados, fresh herbs on the stems, knives, cutting boards, pots and pans and lots of prep work going on; it’s not at all automated, and our customers can taste the difference, because we bring out the best in our food.” And much of that food is local, he stresses. In fact, Chipotle will serve more than fifteen million pounds of locally grown produce in its restaurants this year, up from its 2012 goal of ten million pounds. “As the only national restaurant company with a significant commitment to using local produce on a

large scale, we’ve steadily increased our locally sourced produce supply since beginning the program in 2008,” says Ells. All of Chipotle’s locally grown produce comes from within 350 miles of the restaurants where it’s served. To celebrate that commitment and educate its eaters, Chipotle started Cultivate, a free food, ideas and music festival, which will celebrate its third year in Denver on August 17. But in the meantime, in honor of its twentieth anniversary, Chipotle is offering customers around the globe the chance to win free Chipotle — for life. (The Adventurrito contest starts July 13; go to westword.com for details.) “We push ourselves to find the best-quality ingredients — ingredients that have traditionally been available only in high-end restaurants and specialty food markets — and making them available in a way that’s accessible and affordable to everyone, which I think is a really important mission,” concludes Ells, who in the following interview discusses the significance of high expectations, a frivolous lawsuit and Steve Ells is no stranger to the kitchen. his partnership with McDonald’s, which started in 1998 and ended in 2006, when he took the company public. Julia Child. By the time I was in high school and college, I loved having dinner parties and Lori Midson: Talk about your upbringing. entertaining friends over food. Many of my Was food an important element when you oldest memories involve food and the whole dining experience. were young? Steve Ells: I started cooking early on, as a You graduated from the Culinary Institute of very young child, so food and cooking have America in Hyde Park and spent several years as been important to me for as long as I can a chef before opening Chipotle and becoming a remember. I always liked to help my mom household name in entrepreneurial restaurantin the kitchen, and while other kids were industry circles. Do you miss cooking? watching cartoons and things, I was watching I’ve always loved to cook, but I’ve moved

on to do other things. I opened Chipotle with the idea of using it as a cash cow to help me finance a “real restaurant” — the kind of place that was like Stars in San Francisco. But as Chipotle has grown, so, too, has our influence, and we’re having more of an impact on the way people eat than I ever would have had if I’d stuck with my original plan. I still love to cook quite a bit, but I really like where I am now and what I’m doing. Who’s on the short list of chefs/restaurateurs who have most influenced you? There are so many, but Jeremiah Tower, at Stars in San Francisco, had a lot of influence on me. When I graduated from cooking school, I went to work at Stars, which was one of my favorite restaurants in the country at the time, and that’s where I really learned to cook and to taste food in a discerning way. There have been a lot of other chefs I’ve admired since then, but the experience at Stars was really important to me. What are your ingredient obsessions? Can I say chipotle peppers? We use chipotles in so much of our food — in the marinade for the chicken and steak, the beans and the carnitas. I’ve always thought there was a lot of depth of flavor and nuances to them, and I named the restaurant after the chipotle pepper because it’s in so many of our recipes — and because I think its properties have been elevated and are really representative of what we do with the food in our restaurants. What is your favor- continued on page 16

Black Beans, White Stripes
Hearing Tom Waits rumble through “Jockey Full of Bourbon” while you’re dripping Tabasco on a barbacoa bowl at Chipotle may give you pause. Or you might take comfort in the smooth rhythm of Peter Tosh’s “Coming In Hot” as you wait in the lunch-rush line. The music selections at the Denver-based fast-casual giant’s stores hit the spot between far-out stoner radio and hip DJ sets, a brainy mix of new indie artists, alternative-radio favorites and international jams. However you feel about Chipotle’s musical selections, you have one man to thank — or blame. Christopher Golub is the guy who programs the songs for all of Chipotle’s more than 1,400 restaurants, making him responsible for an essential piece in founder Steve Ells’s restaurant vision. “When [Ells] opened the first one, over on Evans, his belief was that he always thought music was an important part of the overall restaurant experience,” Golub says. “So he began with his programming at the first store, and it went on from there. He always kept a focus on music as an integral part of the experience.” Today Golub runs an enterprise called Studio Orca that’s based in Brooklyn, where his company creates “music identity” for a number of different brands. Chipotle is his biggest client, and you’ll find him at Chipotle’s Cultivate Festival in Denver next month, spinning his restaurant programming between music sets.

An average playlist Golub puts together may have more A refugee from the East Coast DJ scene, Golub worked as a manager at the Wynkoop Brewing Company and than 500 songs and be in rotation for no more than a month, moved on to building and designing Denver’s ultra-hip to keep the song selection fresh. Once he’s finished a program, Swimclub32 before ditching Denver and the restaurant life it’s streamed to every Chipotle restaurant around the globe. “We don’t program for certain marto rediscover music. Four years ago, he was kets; we program based off of what tapped to take over music-curation efforts at we feel works,” he says. “So when Chipotle. “Steve asked me to come up with a you have a burrito in Iowa, or Paris, sample playlist of what I thought might work France, or London, England, or Canin the restaurant,” Golub recalls. “Having ada, you’re hearing the same program spent a lot of time in Colorado, I had a good and the same vibe.” As with Chipotle’s feeling for what was going on there.” menu, everyone everywhere gets the But music programming at Chipotle is same aural experience. about more than just a feeling. “It also has to Studio Orca also makes use of a have what I call ‘texture of sound,’” Golub subtle technique called dayparting. explains. “You know that if you go into a store, This technique is nothing new to rayou’ve got the small, hard surfaces. You’ve dio and club DJs, and back in the ’40s got concrete floors, a lot of windows, hard and ’50s, the Muzak Company would walls and a lot of cooking gear and tile. So that program workplace music specifically doesn’t work with certain songs.” For example, to increase productivity, a technique the high, tenuous yowl of Radiohead frontman called “Stimulus Progression.” UsThom Yorke wreaks havoc with the steel and ing similar tactics at Chipotle today, concrete of a Chipotle buildout. music during the lunch rush might That means you won’t hear “Kid A” at have a quicker BPM than something Chipotle — but what will you hear? “It’s hard Christopher Golub playing during the 4 p.m. doldrums. to put my finger on exactly what song makes But Golub’s personal approach to getting toes tapping it and what song doesn’t,” Golub says. “We do our very best to put on programming that’s not on mainstream radio, on makes Chipotle programming much more than sonic wallInternet channels. We’re not playing the big hits of the world paper. “One of the greatest joys,” he says, “is when we see at all. We’re trying to find emerging stars. Emerging artists someone lifting up a cell phone and Shazam-ing a song, or just singing along to a song.” have this certain feel to their music.” — Chris Utterback

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