Full Circle with The Christi Reece Group

Josh Niernberg - Bin 707/Taco Party - Full Circle With The Christi Reece Group

March 16, 2022 Josh Niernberg Season 2 Episode 2
Full Circle with The Christi Reece Group
Josh Niernberg - Bin 707/Taco Party - Full Circle With The Christi Reece Group
Show Notes Transcript

Christi sits down with the James Beard nominated chef/owner of Bin 707 and Taco Party, Josh Niernberg!  You'll be making dinner plans by the time you finish this conversation about Western Colorado cuisine, restaurant life, and how even a nationally recognized chef can't get his kids to eat their meals.

Check out Josh's restaurants:
http://www.bin707.com/
https://www.tacopartygj.com/

If you prefer video, check out the interview on YouTube: https://youtu.be/DVWl6BBGKR8

Speaker 1:

The full circle podcast, compelling interviews and incredible tales from Colorado's Western slope, from the mountains to the desert Christie , Reese , and her team here from the movers, shakers and characters of the grand valley and surrounding mountain towns that make the Western slope, the place we all love. You'll learn. You'll laugh. You'll love with the full circle. Hi, everybody. Welcome back to the full circle podcast. I'm super excited today to talk to our friend, Josh Nurnberg , owner and chef at Ben 7 0 7 food bar and taco party. And we wanna learn about , uh , James Beard award and everything that you have going. We always get excited to talk to you about the amazing food that you're making and your beautiful restaurant. So welcome Josh.

Speaker 2:

Well, thanks so much for having me pleasure to be here.

Speaker 1:

Um, let's start out with James Beard. What an honor that you were nominated for the, the national award, not just the regional yeah.

Speaker 2:

Total surprise. Um , you know, it was yeah, complete rise . We, for the , for the couple years, 2018, through 2020, I made a conscious effort to try to get , uh , regional recognition. Um, you know, it's good for the restaurants, but ultimately it really helps our labor pool. And that completely changed when the pandemic hit, you know, I went from 78, I think to right now we have like 52 employees. I had nine managers right now. I have like three. Wow . So we are a fraction of what we were. Um, so needless say, I , I , you know , I haven't put effort into doing any of these things. I haven't been doing events like I previously was. So when I got the news, it complete shock that's, which is pretty cool. F yeah .

Speaker 1:

So talk about the process that leads to that nomination. Is it all consumer driven or , um, are you advocate for each other in the restaurant industry obviously. Does that have a hand in the nomination, other restaurant tours that see you and see what you're doing?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think that that does have a big part in it, but it's not necessarily , um, it's not necessarily like a question there it's , uh , somewhat participation, but there is also a judge of peers, so they are actively nominating restaurants. Um , so in this case, you know, again, you know, this is something I've gotten after in the past, and there is an open nomination process that, you know, you , anybody can go and write an email and say, you know, let's look at so and so forth. Let's look at this person for a chef and let's look at this restaurant or let's look at this wine program, or, you know, any of the different categories of the James Beard , uh , foundation , um, accredits in this case, I don't necessarily know where that came from. It's not, it's the nomination wasn't for a category that I ever thought that I would be, you know, even eligible , um , for a nomination. And so it was a complete surprise

Speaker 1:

Because it's chef right as it there are. And there's also a category of Reau tour . Do you feel that you're more one than the other?

Speaker 2:

It depends on the day of the week,

Speaker 1:

Cause you, especially through the pandemic, I mean , you had to do it all right, right. You were probably waiting tables at times and busing and dishes and managing, ordering.

Speaker 2:

So everything, when, you know, I think primarily first she chef first restaurant to our second and that's kind of always been the way, although, when we opened the restaurant, I opened the restaurant to be really faceless, to kind of empower the staff, to be able to come up and, and be proud of the , the roles that they're in and it wasn't ever supposed to be the chef driven , um, restaurant when we opened taco party, that's kind of when it changed , um , you know, taco party probably wouldn't have succeeded if I didn't kind of step into the spotlight, so to speak and start doing events, offsite, and getting out of just our community into other communities to promote. And that, that kind of perpetuated those things somewhat , um, you know, fast forward to now for the 20, 22 awards, the , the nomination that , um , I'm a , in my finalist four is for outstanding chef for the United States. This group is, I think there's 19 of us. Um,

Speaker 1:

That just gives me goosebumps.

Speaker 2:

It's pretty wild. I mean, there's 19 chefs that I look up to just in New York city or just in Denver, you know, just throughout Colorado. Um, so to be on that list, is it again, it's totally exceeded anything that I had , uh , anticipated, but at the same time in 2020, I did receive the nomination for a regional chef and it was for the mountain region. It was a , the first time that James Beard had dedicated a mountain region , uh, previously we were part of the Southwest, which was basically Texas to almost California. Um, and I, I really feel like the , uh , the , the way that the mountain region has become a region really speaks to a lot of, kind of what , uh , Ben 7 0 7 and taco party have done in the past, but also to, you know, like the other restaurants in , in this region, the other restaurants throughout , uh , Colorado we've really changed the landscape of what culinary looks like in the United States.

Speaker 1:

Well, and, and because you focus on regional cuisine,

Speaker 2:

Right , right. And I mean, that's, that's a big part of the bin story is that when we opened, it was the middle of a recession in the grand valley and oil and gas had pulled out and we looked around and said, listen, we've got this, we've got a wealth of employees. We've got agriculture, we've got wine making . Let's showcase that, that turned , that was that predated local V that predated local, anything, you know, fast forward now it's, we're on the other side of that. Now labor is at an absolute premium. The model that we built was to provide as many jobs as possible, and it took a lot of jobs to operate. So in the last couple years, we've completely Lee flipped it. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And I wanna applaud you for the training of your staff. I mean, I think grand junction before your restaurant was never known for its professional weight staff, and you really turned that around and there are a number of restaurants now that you can go in and, and I think people can make a living here as a , a server. And it just wasn't that way before. Why do you think grand junctions had such a hard time producing that level of service? Well,

Speaker 2:

I , you know, a lot of that has to do with the operator , um, you know, in the type of restaurant, the first place and previous to what we were doing in grand junction, there were three, maybe four restaurants in the entire grand valley that were, you know, legitimate, higher end , locally owned and operated restaurants. It was all chains, which means there's a formula that they follow. And that formula is based on tip credits. And it's based on minimum wage rates and et cetera . And if any of those factors change that BI doesn't function, we never set up that way. We set up to provide well paying long term jobs from the get go ,

Speaker 1:

And not just your servers, but also your kitchen staff. Right.

Speaker 2:

Which means that our menu prices are set on that, which means that, you know, our, our rent rates are set off of that, which means that the formula that I follow for our restaurants has to have enough room to be able to take care of staff first. And then I'll write the menu based upon where we need to hit for purpose person averages or, you know, average menu price, or what have you.

Speaker 1:

So do you see, I know a lot of people have changed their business model , uh , because they were forced to during the pandemic, but do you play and to keep, do you consider them efficiencies or do you wanna get back to having more staff so that you can provide more jobs and have a little bit more , um, security and having enough people to run the place and grow

Speaker 2:

Well? You know, I think that there's, I think that the entire industry has changed pretty significantly. And I don't think that, you know, the , the way that we were previously operating, it's not relevant, not only for the pandemic, but also because minimum wage increases that happen through that timeframe as well, have completely changed the industry. Um, on, on our end, you know, we've made some major shifts in our hours of operation. We've also made major shifts in how we pay our staff. You know, we do a service charge at both of the restaurants in lieu of gratuity, you know, which is really it's, it's, it's a , um, it's by far, I think the best way to do it, but it comes with so much confusion from a consumer standpoint that it has more to do with the way tip law is written, the way that we are now collecting a service charge, guarantees that all of our staff that is not salary , that is not ownership, that is not manager shares that instead of just maybe two or three people, as it is dedicated under tip law , operating like that and changing the way that we operate it, it changes the hours of operation that we need to, to function. It doesn't make sense to be open at two o'clock in the afternoon for an empty restaurant, with six people on for the sake of saying they have something to do. And , you know, I think we all know that most people waiting tables at two o'clock in the afternoon are polishing silverware for minimum wage, which is, it's just, it's a waste of everybody's time and labor.

Speaker 1:

Uh , getting back to James Beard a little bit, what would it mean to you, or do you allow yourself to think about what would it be like if you , uh , were chosen the top dog?

Speaker 2:

I have zero aspirations for that. And, you know, again, it was a total surprise, but looking down the list, I mean, it's almost instantaneous imposter syndrome, you know, like, yes, I've been writing menus and yes, I've been, you know, trying to showcase our region. And I think that's a lot of where the value comes from for the nomination, but it went when it comes to, you know, some of the techniques that some of the other , uh , chefs are using and some of the other cuisines that they're showcasing it it's so night and day different from what we are doing. It's in some way, I almost feel like it wouldn't be fair with some of those other chefs that have really pushed a lot harder into a , you know, CAI cuisine or similar.

Speaker 1:

We're just so thankful that you're here and bringing amazing things to our palettes. Um, where do you like to go? Uh , and how do you travel when you go places to sample other chefs, food and their restaurants, how do you determine where you wanna go? And,

Speaker 2:

You know, I think the , the bigger part of that answer is that I'm kind of always paying attention. It doesn't, it's not necessarily a destination to see what's happening. It's more of like this conversation of what's for sale in the grocery store. It's, what's coming out of, you know, this farmer or this distributor, or what have you, what the national chains are doing. Um, you know, I do tend to travel a lot and I do travel for food a lot. I typically make , um, at least pre pandemic, at least one trip a year to each one of the coasts, try to bring a lot of my staff, both front of house and back a house, just so we, it can kind of get inspired from ideas. Um, but you know, honestly it , my travel of the last couple of years has all been my car with, you know, a family and a dog, and we're paying attention to what it looks like on all tier and all levels

Speaker 1:

And finding something exciting in even the mundane or

Speaker 2:

Exactly

Speaker 1:

Surprising places.

Speaker 2:

And really, you know, I like when , if I go to some place I haven't been before, I'm likely to not necessarily find the kind of food I want to eat. Like if I go to say , just for example, S I'm not gonna look for sushi, I'm gonna look for something that's specific to S um , that's true in the Pacific Northwest. That's true in the east coast, west coast. I think that's really where you can find, you know, good ideas and, and , uh , people that are really trying to push the envelope with food, because they're trying to do something unique.

Speaker 1:

And does your family like eating meals with you or do they find it annoying? Are you critical?

Speaker 2:

No, I

Speaker 1:

Don't take everything apart. Or do you really enjoy the food and the experie?

Speaker 2:

I think, you know, I , I don't pick anything apart, but if I think that if somebody ever asks, for my opinion, they maybe get too much, they maybe get more than they bargain for, but, you know, Jodi, Jodi is a super adventurous eater and, and she likes food and that's something that, you know, we definitely have in common. My boys can't stand my cooking, neither of 'em . Um , I can't feed either one of them . I've worked on , uh , pizza recipes for a good couple of years and I'm barely even palatable for them. So, you know, so it ,

Speaker 1:

Um, let's go back to , uh , regional cuisine. What, what is Colorado cuisine to you? I mean, to start maybe even bigger, like, what is mountain region cuisine? What is Colorado and what is grand valley cuisine?

Speaker 2:

Well, I mean, I think that's really on a , on a really micro level and I , that's definitely something that, you know, I've been a major proponent of , for most of Mike career, but I've started to kind of back that out and look at, at , at other factors, you know, Colorado is really Southwest and Southwestern cuisine was a thing, and it kind of went outta popularity that the , it is what it is because of what's here. So, you know, geographically we're influenced by, you know, the orders that we're closest to were influenced by the grains that were here and predated the state. Um, you know, it , it's one thing to grow a specific kind of beat here. It's another thing to propagate corn, or, you know, Sonor and flour , as it's found its way up from Mexico through , uh , you know, Southern United States or Southwest during United States and in Colorado, and trying to find those things and those ingredients and those background stories, and then use that as the inspiration for our menu is really, that's where we focused. Um, you know, there's a huge story with Colorado lamb. There's a huge story with, you know, ranchers and ranching throughout the area. The grand valley in particular, of course, has , you know, history growing beats for sugar production through the sugar be factory that we have across the street to us here. And, you know, that's all over the state that wasn't necessarily part of the cuisine. That's just a nice tie in to the history and, you know, bets do grow really well here. Um,

Speaker 1:

Is anybody growing beats here now? Significantly?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Yeah. Um, you know, I think last year, we, for actually for the last, maybe five years now , um, bla has been growing a beat for us called a Badger flame beat , which is a specific beat that was , uh , propagated by a company called row seven seeds that has grown to not taste like the, the kind of dirtiness that has lot of the bets have. They're grown to be really long so that they have a higher yield they're grown to be , uh , to use less water to be grown. So it's, you know, it's a be that's designed for culinary purposes as opposed to design for sugar production. And it grows fantastically well here, and they've been on our menu for years, but, you know, there's all kinds of different BES and there all kinds of different farmers growing them here .

Speaker 1:

What's your, what's your favorite thing to cook?

Speaker 2:

Well , that's a tough question. Um, I really like Japanese cuisine and I like , uh , Mexican cuisine and I like the intersection of the two. And I know that seems super weird. Um,

Speaker 1:

Only if you're gonna do like beans and no beans and sushi.

Speaker 2:

Well, you know, I , I , I had this conversation with somebody else recently that like, if you were to go back to when we started, when everything first started going to this local movement, you saw this change , um, in the conversation almost nationwide that chefs were starting to pickle everything. And the reason for that was okay, we're now all sourcing from the same couple of farmers that are only having, you know, small crop yields through a couple months of the year. So how do we keep that on our menus? And for us, that was a really pivotal moment that , uh, kind of forced us to change the way that we looked at what's coming through the door and how we treat it. So we look to different cultures for preservation and through , um, uh , a lot of different Asian cultures, Japan, China in particular, a lot of the techniques that they use for preservation can be applied through the products that we have here know , making meso , making hot sauces with , um, you know, Koji as opposed to vinegar , um, so that we are able to keep these items on our menu for a lot longer. And that's kind of what we're doing with taco party in a way, is using this , this Southwestern United States with influences from Mexico and techniques from Asia coming in through our, you know, westernmost border to really kind of rewrite, rewrite and change the way that we're doing Southwestern food, which is totally different than what we were doing at bin . But what we were doing at bin taco party didn't fit, which is why taco party is what it is, because we can't really have this conversation without, you know, this kind of a elephant on the room over here that we're not really even talking about. How do we kind of dabble into both of those areas?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's fascinating. This is making me feel , uh , woefully undereducated at , uh , in my, not only my cuisine, but my technique and my, my knowledge of food, you know , like I just usually go to the grocery store and get inspired by what's there. Um, but I don't seek out necessarily a lot of different things. So I , I find it fascinating. The , the things that you put together last time I was at your restaurant, I just couldn't believe all the different elements that were, I had the , um , carpaccio and it was with a popcorn and I loved it. It was so great.

Speaker 2:

I mean, you know, if you break down that dish at its core , it's , it's a , it's a pork, right? So it's a cured pork lo so it's pork green chili and corn. I mean that if there was a Colorado cuisine, it would be pork green chili and corn. We've disguise that as a, as a dish that has, you know, kind of a come out of a sort of Italian staple, elevate it to something we had served on the table at bin , as opposed to something, a taco party, but really it's like, Hey, let's look at these ingredients and showcase some different components of them.

Speaker 1:

And , uh , you said when you talked about Japan, I've noticed that you have some Japanese , um, influences in your bar as well. Um, talk a little bit about your feelings of the , the marriage of wine and food and cocktails and food as I love your cocktails as well.

Speaker 2:

The , um, there's no rhyme or reason to have any of the Japanese influences on our bar that we, you do other than I'm just a big fan of him . Yeah . Um, so the , our, our wine program has changed a couple of times through the years. In 2018, I made a big push to go into almost exclusively natural wines, which is really difficult to do showcasing Colorado wine. So we kind of had to turn that into our own sort of coffee at. So we've got , um , as always local, Colorado and domestically source as our primary influence, but then we added natural. And as soon as we added that natural category, we started bringing in a lot of imported wines that followed, you know, they've been growing the same grapes on the same plot of land for 300 years with no intervention. And that, that really basic , um, again, technique of, of producing something in this case for wine was a , was kind of this area that we didn't have on our menu. And it seemed to be the sort of the missing piece , uh , between 2018. And now I can say that there's been enough change in both the United States and in call or auto wine making that we can now showcase natural wines from Colorado and natural wines from the United States where four years ago, even we , we weren't able

Speaker 1:

To just four years that's

Speaker 2:

Happened. I mean, it's been a complete shift in the industry as a whole, in that short of amount of time, which is really cool. Um, our, our bar program, our beverage program, we try to use, you know, spirits that follow that sort of same ethos. And then, you know, a lot of the things that we are putting into both of the menus are the byproduct of the product that walks through the door, rather than saying, Hey, we wanna make this dish or make this drink. It's more, so, Hey, we have access to this ingredient, where can we use it? Yeah . A lot of that finds its way into the bar program, whether it's syrups or it's preservations or it's dehydrated or it's pav , or what have you. So it's, it's been a lot of fun to sort of explore that. And , um , the bar program itself, I think, has been really fun for other people to sort of dabble in and add their, their , you know, their ideas to they different flavor profiles too.

Speaker 1:

I , I remember , um, when you first opened enjoying your charcuterie platters, and it seems like those have become really popular all over the country now, too. A lot of people producing those, but , um, do you feel like you were kind of at the forefront of that movement as well, and was that cuz you source a lot of local thing and your , are they all local?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And you know, we still do. We still do arch cheeses in sh in sheery and we've always done all local and or domestic source. We really got into doing our own. Um, so that, you know, at any given point, there's at least four items on the , on our share and cheese boards that we make in house . Wow. Which is kind of why we continue to do it. And because it is something that's gotten a lot more popular and the , um, there's so much more variance in it. It's not necessarily anything that we need to do to showcase it's turned into something that is gives us the ability to things that we haven't done before, whether it's, you know, making a pat or , um , pre pandemic. And hopefully by this summer, we were doing a bunch with rabbit and doing like a rabbit terrain . So we'll have rabbit back on the menu shortly and you know, that kind of stuff. It's a great area for us to be able to use those, those types of ingredients.

Speaker 1:

Um, talk about your beverage program at , uh , taco party. What , what do you like to drink when you eat tacos?

Speaker 2:

Um, well the beverage program at taco party, I should say the beverage program at taco party is about to completely change within the next month. Um, and it's on right now, it's kind of in an interim version. Um , we turned the cocktail program from something that we were doing all to something that we were doing in bulk and bottling and making it super easy to either consume insight onsite or off premise , which was just, you know , an answer to the pandemic. So, you know, our margarita there, I think is just, it's awesome. We rather than using triple S sec , we're using a , a spirit that's a co lab that we're doing with a company called a toast out of Denver. And it's , uh , it's a spirit that's flavored with what I think is like the flavors of the grand valley. So it's, we're doing a little bit of citrus, then we're doing Sage and wahi as the main flavor components to it. What's wahi

Speaker 1:

Wa

Speaker 2:

Like a dried chili,

Speaker 1:

The dried chili. Okay .

Speaker 2:

So there's a little bit of spice to it. There's a little bit of Aness to it. And so as we apply that to margarita, rather than just doing an orange Leor , we're kind of putting in some of these flavors of the grand valley. Um, and you know, I don't think you pull much of it out, but we also use a ton of Juniper. So there's some Juniper in it as well, which almost makes it kind of, I like, you know, like Jen would be, yeah. Um, I said, we're gonna change that all we're in the process of taking down the wall between the two dining rooms, what was previously dinner party or bin and what taco party is currently, we'll go from currently, I think 35 seats to about 75 seats when we do that, we'll change the front door to the opposite side, which will then give us kind of back the bar that we were taking orders from, which will give us the opportunity to just expand that bar program. So we'll be expanding fantastic , um, through , uh , you know, a lot more agave offerings and a lot more cocktails based off of that. Um, we won't be a tequila bar. We won't be a escal bar, but we will have a good amount of really high quality of both.

Speaker 1:

Awesome. Yeah . And are you expanding into the coffee shop area as well?

Speaker 2:

We're looking at , uh , different kind of opportunities. There, there , there are two different things that we could do that we're kind of exploring. The first one is to open up the side of dinner party and through the coffee shop and turn that into patio space. The other one is to build and if we build , um, the idea is to possibly build into sort of an all day cafe that's attached to it. So then we would start and have some grab and , you know, breakfast burritos, that kind of stuff outta the taco party kitchen available on the corner, rooftop patio, and expand the wine program significantly. Um , keep the QRS , uh , the , the location specific QRSs in place so that, you know, somebody could come in, grab a burrito, go upstairs onto the rooftop patio, order a bottle of wine and get work done, you know, sounds great. It would be awesome. And that, that view west facing over the parking lot there with the view of the monument is just, I mean, that's what sold us on that building from the get go . So to be able to even get a better view from the roof would be awesome.

Speaker 1:

It sounds great.

Speaker 2:

Um, I think that, you know, I've been saying this kind of for a while , Grande is growing like crazy, but I still think that we have a little ways to go before we necessarily have the demographic to support that type of investment. So I, like I said, we're exploring those, those options. We may do a combination of two. We may wait a couple of years before we try to break around on one,

Speaker 1:

Well, pre pandemic. I mean, you're always looking at opportunities and expansion I ideas, right. Um, obviously things changed for your industry significantly, but , um, yeah, we hope you're able to go forward with some new things cuz we always just love seeing what you're gonna do and bring to us.

Speaker 2:

Yeah . Well, you know, it's the grand valleys. It's really kind of difficult in the restaurant industry here because we just don't have that much infrastructure and it's always been a challenge. So what we see and have continued to see rather than new ground up builds is second, third, fourth generation operators in the same space, which is awesome, but it's also very slow moving because of that. So we had some traction before the pandemic and hopefully we are kind of rebounding to the point that some of that starts up again. Um, there's been some good news in the paper lately and yeah , my fingers across that continues to move forward.

Speaker 1:

Well, we obviously the real estate market is crazy and we're seeing a lot of people coming in from other areas and more new construction happening this year. So as our population grows, hopefully it just becomes , uh , a boost for you all too in the restaurant industry here. Um, I'm really curious about the , uh , element of fermentation that you brought to taco party. Would you talk about that a little bit?

Speaker 2:

Well, so it's fairly limited what we're able to do. Um, but you know, when we first opened taco party, the premise was that we were going to do a lot of our own fermentations in house and use those for the tortillas. Um, the first couple of months we were open , I think we had five or six different tortillas and they were all based on different Mesos and what have you, that we had fermented in house and then used that to make the tortilla , um, as time has gone on, we're kind of less capable to do that stuff, but where we're really focusing is in the hot sauces. So the sauces that we offer rather than doing just a single recipe, it brings back that seasonality aspect. So we'll buy an entire crop of something and turn that into a long firmament of whatever it is and turn that into our hot sauce. Um, right now we have , uh, who was previously the chef de cuisine at Ben . Ryan Sylvester has been at taco party since about the middle of the pandemic and kind of overseeing that stuff. We've actually changed his title from chef de cuisine to executive director of ice cream flavors and condiments , um ,

Speaker 1:

Which he must be the only one in the country.

Speaker 2:

I , I think that may be the case, but you know that like our ice cream flavors, the hot sauce and the ice cream is just following seasonal availability. One is completely based on fermentation. The other is completely based on what kind of crazy flavors can we put into an ice cream machine and taste good weather or it's beer or butter or you name it. Yeah . They've been through their ice cream machine in the last like

Speaker 1:

Six months. That must be really fun. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. It's super fun. And they're all , I mean, it's hard to make bad ice cream and his ice creams are absolutely fantastic. So the combination of the two is like, do

Speaker 1:

Your kids like the ice cream? Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Okay. Where I , right now we have pair and brown butter , um, and my three year old and my six year old , both love that more than the chocolate that we previously had.

Speaker 1:

Wow. So I'm gonna have to go try that. That sounds great. So , um, guy Yeti .

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, yeah .

Speaker 1:

Who's that? What , what was that like? It

Speaker 2:

Was

Speaker 1:

Surreal whirlwind tornado. Yeah .

Speaker 2:

Um, the timing was super serendipitous. It was over Aspen food and wine weekend. We typically cook at Aspen food and wine, both in the grand tasting tent and then other events. And this year I just wasn't comfortable going. It was, you know, the tent itself is I think 3000 people a day , um , which is just such a high risk if we take all of our employees that shuts down my restaurants for weeks because we went to do an event one day. Uh , so we decided to stay for the first time in five or six years. And almost the following week, I got a call from his team that said that he's gonna be in the grand valley filming. Um, kind of going back and forth from Aspen to, or to film for a couple of different restaurants. And honestly, at the time when we heard that they hadn't decided which one of the restaurants they wanted to showcase. So they, you know, it , I wasn't really a part of that conversation, but they decided to, you know, to, to film taco parties. So we filmed, I think three different days. We were closed for two days when we managed to open for dinner on the third, he was in the shop for, I don't know, an hour and a half, two hours total is that of like 20 hours of filming. Wow. He came in, he did his thing. He's, I mean, you can kind of see it from television, but he's really, he's a comedian first and he's the most knowledgeable person on food you'll ever meet second. And the combination of the two he comes in, he puts on a show, he gets everybody laughing. Yeah. Um, he puts out great content and he

Speaker 1:

Sure does. Yeah. His show , his show's really enjoyable.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And you know, we've always, we've always had a TV on it . Ben that's playing the food network. So he's been on the TV. It been for 12 years now. So it's kind of cool to actually see him on the bin TV in taco party . Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And when does it air?

Speaker 2:

Um, it aired originally , um , sometime mid-December okay. And it's Reed a handful of times since the night can only tell you that because I'll get up and have 400 new likes on taco party, page on social media and, you know, questions of, when are you gonna open here, here and here. So , um, I think it's aired through maybe four times so far. Okay.

Speaker 1:

I'm gonna , I haven't seen it yet. I'm gonna have to check it out. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

If we were really happy with it, it came out great.

Speaker 1:

It's fun. Do you ever , um , seek out some of the other restaurants talks about

Speaker 2:

I never have. I mean, you know, I , I don't know. I don't watch a whole lot of TV. I just I'm full speed ahead when I'm , when I'm at work and when I'm not at work, I'm trying to be with my boys. And so I really haven't had the opportunity to see a whole lot of it, honestly, when they reached out, I don't think I had watched one of his shows and maybe 10 years. So we had to like Jody and I went and sat down and watched YouTube and watched all these different things and got an idea for what his shows did. So

Speaker 1:

I watch it in hotels when I travel. Like I'm, I'm either on HGT or the food network at night when I'm in a

Speaker 2:

Sounds like there's , he's kind of following of people that know every move in that follow, you know, restaurant to restaurant to restaurant sounds , which is pretty cool. I mean, we've seen some of them already and yeah, it's , it's awesome. That's , you know, I mean they did, they either visited feisty pint and uh , Brunelle Del bistro. And I think that they really painted a , a , a really nice picture of downtown grand junction, which is

Speaker 1:

Awesome. Fantastic. We'll take that. Won't we? Totally,

Speaker 2:

Absolutely.

Speaker 1:

Um, what, what would you say gives you the most joy in life? Uh , as far as food and wine and restaurants, I mean, do you love being in the kitchen? Do you love the people aspect of it?

Speaker 2:

I'd say all of the above, my favorite part by far is in the kitchen. Um, it's few and far between that I get to work line shifts and they're my favorite. And every time I'm, I'm there, I'm , you know, I'm smiling and I'm telling everybody around me how much fun it is and that I love it. I'm also pushing 50 years old. And there is no question that I'm not able to do, you know, a week worth of line shifts if my life depended on it. Um, so, you know, I love that aspect of it. I love serving, I love creating dishes. I , I love the, you know, the push of, you know, a busy service. I also really enjoy creating spaces. Um, and honestly, I think that's the most rewarding part. So , you know, from the ambiance of the restaurant, so the service of the restaurant, the music of the restaurant to, you know, the menu of the food, the whole thing, creating that space is that's the part that I enjoy the most. You know, I come from an industrial design background. My stepfather's an architect. My mom was an interior designer. Oh , wow . It's all, it'ss all part of you .

Speaker 1:

Yeah .

Speaker 2:

It's all part of the package, I think . Well,

Speaker 1:

And it's obvious. I mean, I think , uh, every time I go in and you've got a little bit of a redesign, I think, wow, I can't believe they improved this place, but it just feels even better than it did before.

Speaker 2:

Well, and you know, that's part of it too, is to keep, keep it evolving, just, you know, keep making those changes. So it's always unexpected. And that's, that alone is kind of part of their recipe.

Speaker 1:

How many hours a week do you spend in experimenting with new foods and cooking different recipes and things you've never tried before

Speaker 2:

Pre pandemic, probably 15 through the pandemic the first several months. Um, I cooked a , I cooked a family meal menu that was a new menu every single day, a for two months that led to changing the menus. It been, it's been the most successful menu change we've ever done. And honestly it is the longest we've kept most of those menu items on the menu. And what's really weird is all of us are, you know, I don't wanna say we're totally bored with them, but it's been, it's the longest menu we've ever had.

Speaker 1:

And how long

Speaker 2:

Is that ? We , I mean, we're going on a year and a half and with the , the accolades that we just got from the James Beard foundation, it's hard to even be motivated to change. It's like, well, we've never done this before and we're getting, you know, some accolades for it. Um, so, you know, I look back on what we've done through the restaurant, and I think we've gone too fast in the past and we've gone through dishes that people haven't even seen because they came and went off the menu as quickly as they did. So is

Speaker 1:

That because of the seasonality of them

Speaker 2:

Initially was , it was absolutely. But a lot of those came with ideas that could be expanded upon. So really I'm kind of going backwards and trying to pull some of those ideas back out and put , put them back on the menu because they seem to be carrying more attraction . So

Speaker 1:

Do you see any trends coming that you're excited about? One of the things I think of is brussel sprouts. You know, I , uh , I didn't like brussel sprouts five years ago and now I can't get enough. I eat 'em like three times a week and I find five different ways to make them that I love all of it. And I just , I'm so surprised and kale, I love kale now, too. What , what , uh , kind of ingredients are coming to the forefront of the us pallet

Speaker 2:

Grains,

Speaker 1:

Grains.

Speaker 2:

And I , I mean, I know that's such an open-ended thing, but you know, grains, especially for lack of a better or heirloom grains, regionally specific grains , um, you know, small production with high quality milling. We just haven't seen that as a culture. Like the reason that Italian pizza and Napoleon style pizza taste, the way it does is because of those grains and those million and

Speaker 1:

The way they mill .

Speaker 2:

Right. Um, it's what makes pasta pasta. It's what, it's what differentiates good from bad in those things. And we are just at the tip of that. I think five years from now, everything will be locally sourced grains. Wow. So I think we're right at the beginning of that. Um, the other big trend that I, I see right now starting, I wouldn't say big, but a trend that's starting is ferments , um, wines that are made with, with other fruit. Um, whether that's cider that's fermented with grape must or what have you. Um, Patrick at Sage spectrum is just released one. That's fantastic. Currently on the, I realize we have seven on the bin menu right now, I have never had seven ferments on the menu, which means that there's at least seven available that weren't previously there. So I think there's a big trend starting there as well.

Speaker 1:

Neat. I think I could just go to bin every day and try a new combination of something you, a new , um , cocktail or a new glass of wine with something that I haven't paired it with before, which is exciting to me. So I need to be there more. Um, let's see, oh, what, what is it about the Ben burger? You think that makes it so dang good.

Speaker 2:

It's a combination of things. Um, so when I put the Ben burger on the menu, I , I put that menu together in my mind, 30 different combinations. And in the 11th hour, you know, I decided, I think Jody said, listen, you need to have something that's super approachable. And she was exactly right. So we kind of created this idea . You have a burger, the Ben burger was inspired by a burger at a place called, I wanna say Chuck wagon . I don't know if that's right. It's um, it's , uh , it's in Phoenix, Arizona, it's been there for 50 years. The idea was a really flat Patty with a relatively high fat content. Um , so that as a cook, it kind of renders its own fat and it gets a really hard char on it. That was the inspiration for the burger so that the mechanics of our burger have to do with how the fat content hits the flame and how the flame flavors, the burger with the smoke, the Mayard reaction that happens on the meat itself that creates, you know , additional flavor. Um, and then from there it's texture. So the frit is the crispy part. The lettuce is the crispy part. It's usually the tomato. And in our case, we put that into the lettuce. The onion is really, you know, thinly slice. So the onion is flavor. Instead of texture, the tomato is always intended to be super soft. The bun is a really soft, it's a potato bun that we steam. So the buns as soft as possible. So from a texture component, the crisp vegetables and the secret to it is we put all of the vegetables on the side of the burger. So the burger doesn't steam, the vegetables until you're ready to eat. And it's a couple of these little, super basic technique things that the combination of all of them make it, what it is ,

Speaker 1:

Which is I'm sure where I'm failing in the kitchen. If I'm not paying enough attention to how I'm sure that's the only reason I'm failing in the kitchen is what I meant say . Um , if I'm not paying attention to how thinly I'm slicing my onions for my burger, it's gonna , that has a completely D rent outcome, doesn't it? Or when I put them on.

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, absolutely . Yeah . And you know, again, it's temperature and texture are just as important as the flavor itself, if the temperature and the texture of the items are incorrect, the whole thing doesn't work. So it's sort of this combination of all that.

Speaker 1:

Well , um, anything else you'd like to share with us about , uh , restaurants or grand junction or life in general?

Speaker 2:

Well, you know, I'm , I, I have to say that you , at this point kind of post pandemic that we're in and looking the way that the grand junction has come out from the pandemic from hospitality standpoint, from a restaurant standpoint, I think that if there's nothing else that we've learned, it's how important tourism is to our economy and how much the hospitality and the restaurant industry has been able to stay afloat because of that here. And it's, I think, you know, we're finally starting to take notice of it as a community, and it's just, not only it it's exciting, but had it not been for that. I know we wouldn't be, but a lot of the restaurants in our community wouldn't be here. So, you know, of course our local support has been just absolutely fantastic, but the tourism and the way that we've responded and been able to continue to kind of welcome with open arms, the tourism ministry here, it's Absolut, he saved us. So hopefully that continues to grow

Speaker 1:

And hopefully things like gey and, and James Beard will bring more tourists to our area just for the cuisine. And then they'll find out about all the other great things that are happening around

Speaker 2:

Here. That's yeah. And absolutely exciting . Uh , my fingers across that , that helps to continue the , the , the labor situation that we have here, that this becomes a Destin for people that wanna work in those industries.

Speaker 1:

I hope so too, Josh, thank you so much for joining us and we wish you the most success , uh , in all of your endeavors. And we're really excited to watch , uh , James Beard and, and just excited for you with that honor. It's really amazing . So lucky to have you here in grand junction.

Speaker 2:

Thanks for having me. It's a total pleasure.

Speaker 1:

Stay here. Keep opening restaurants, keep cooking and thanks to your wife, Jody, for helping out you guys are amazing.

Speaker 2:

Well, thanks so much. All right .

Speaker 1:

If you haven't yet been to taco party or bin 7 0 7 , do yourself a favor, go try bin burger, go try some tacos. Um, some co fermented wine. Um, so many wonderful things to try and the desserts. We didn't even talk about desserts

Speaker 2:

The pies, the

Speaker 1:

Pies. Gotta go try those too . So , um , thanks for tuning in watching and listening to the full circle podcast. We'll see you next time. Thanks. Thanks for listening. This is Christie Reese signing out from the full circle of podcast.