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Take 5 with Colton Harmon

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Title: Line cook, Bocadillos
Home town: Sacramento, CA

1. How did you get into cooking?
I was working at Starbucks when I was 17. One night I took home a cookbook and I cooked dinner for my roommates. I made potato salad, blueberry cornbread, and some kind of barbecued chicken. I remember the look on peoples faces and how it made me feel and that was how I realized I really enjoyed cooking.

After that I bought a lot of books and watched a lot of cooking shows, ate out a lot. Three years ago I graduated from culinary school.

2. What do you enjoy about being a line cook at Bocadillos?
I like the hours. The work changes quite a bit on a daily basis. I've been here about nine months and it's very fast paced. In the kitchen you build a strong bond working with people again and again in a stressful environment. It's very rewarding.

The Executive Chef and I have the same ideas, we both worked in fine dining. I like making great simple food. I want to make food that other chefs want to eat.


3. What misconceptions do people have about what you do?
People have no idea. People think we kind of sit back, just like cooking at home. We're some of the hardest working people in a restaurant. On a busy Saturday night I run from 2:30 until 11:30 at night, and I take home half of what the front of the house staff does.

4. Why are small plates so popular right now?
I look at a menu and I always want to try at least four or five things. Then no matter what I order, I always find myself wishing I ordered something else. With small plates you have the ability to try a few different things.

Small plate dining creates a less formal environment where you can share dishes. When you eat at a place like Bocadillos there's a lot more flexibility. If you want to have a bottle of wine and a snack before a movie you could do that or if you want to have five or six plates and stay for a couple hours you can do that too.

5. Where do you like to eat out?
The places I like to eat at and where I can afford to eat are two different things! If money was no object I would particularly like to eat at Manresa and the French Laundry of course. On an everyday basis I like House of Nanking, cheap Vietnamese places such as Tu Lan. In North Beach I like Giordano Bros where they put coleslaw and fries on the sandwiches. In the lower Haight on Tuesdays Rosamunde sells a burger. I swear it's one of the best hamburgers I've had ever. People line up for it.

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