February 18, 2014

Jeffrey Lammer, Culinary Arts 2012

Spring 2012 Culinary Arts graduate Jeffrey Lammer wasted no time launching his career in Denver’s burgeoning culinary scene. Following an externship at Root Down, a hip neighborhood spot with eclectic décor and globally influenced seasonal cuisine, Lammer was hired on, primarily running the poaching station for weekend brunches (known as one of the top brunches in Denver). He recently took on the role of Kitchen Manager at the newly opened location at Denver International Airport. Lammer loves being a part of a restaurant group (their sister restaurant Linger is just up the road) for the chance to share ideas with talented chefs and for the future growth opportunities a growing network affords. Lammer tells us where he finds inspiration, about his favorite part of the job, and why Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts provides the best – and most practical – culinary education.

Escoffier: What is it like to work at a place with a sister restaurant; do you get a chance to interact with your counterparts at Linger?
Lammer: It’s an even greater number of people to build relationships with. It’s interesting because both restaurant styles are completely different. We make completely different menus so when we get together it’s always interesting – the tradeoff in conversation is always fun. One of the things that excites me is that almost everyone is a big reader so we are always exchanging books that we are reading, shows on Netflix, or whatever. There is a constant push to stay on top of your education.

Escoffier: We’d love to hear what’s on your reading/watching list, please share!
Lammer: Lucky Peach magazine: I highly recommend that. I buy copies of that and give it to people and they are like, “Holy mackerel, it changed my world!” [The magazine is a collaboration between] top writers, stylists, chefs, and scientists – they pick one subject and address it from all different sides. For shows, I recommend a show on PBS called The Mind of a Chef, with David Chang of Momofuku and Anthony Bourdain narrating it, where he is running around the world talking to cutting edge restaurants. [And for books] I’m finding Keys to Good Cooking by Harold McGee (explaining the science behind the technique of cooking and what is going on behind everything we do while putting a dish together) really fascinating; it’s changing the way I’m cooking.

Escoffier: Awesome suggestions! Any increased growth opportunities working for a group, rather than a single restaurant?
Lammer: Root Down has opened a restaurant at Denver International Airport, where I am Kitchen Manager. It is the first high-end farm-to-table restaurant in an airport. We are currently hiring students. And there is a fourth restaurant in the works in LoDo. We just papered up the windows. It should open up this year. And, if you think about it, Root Down and Linger are on the pulse of what’s going on – on the forefront of the Denver food movement. We are all constantly challenged to go further.

Escoffier: What is the best part about your job?
Lammer: Making the family meal, feeding the staff. Because if you can’t take the time to feed the staff well…it sets the tone for everything moving forward, like the service. Staff meals are improvised with leftovers, scraps, things that need to be used up. It calls on me to improvise to put something together, to create something special, and do it quickly. At first it was very intimidating and I was nervous, now I love doing it. I really believe that family meal is important. Also, after nine months at Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, you learn how to work in a commercial kitchen but there is all this development afterwards, like learning how a chef thinks, their philosophy; it is part of the fun.

Escoffier: Speaking of school, how did it prepare you to be in a commercial kitchen?
Lammer: [School taught me to] be in touch with the classic dishes, not only from France, but also from Italy and Spain and from around the world. Most of all, it was a concentration on technique. Also, it provided the opportunity to work in a team environment with a bunch of other chefs to put together a meal. That is important. That is what Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts is: prep, put it together, cook, clean, and then you go home. And that is the way a restaurant is. I’ve worked with a lot of people from other schools and they don’t have as much hands-on experience (not as much lab time). And they are always running around to catch up.

Escoffier: Do you have any advice to share with students just starting their careers?
Lammer: Never be afraid to ask questions – that’s important. Be prepared to work really hard every day. There will always be some crisis or something.

Escoffier: Is Root Down or Linger accepting stages or externs?
Lammer: Actually, yes! Lauren, the Pastry Chef at Linger, just took a stage in from Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. She judged the pastry competition and she really liked the school; she was impressed. I think that holds well for the future of stages in the future at our restaurants. I think it is important to have interns come in. We need the extra hands, but it’s important for students to get out there and do it.

If you are interested in attending Pastry or  Culinary School, contact our campuses for more information:

1.866.552.2433 Austin Campus

1.877.249.0305 Boulder Campus