Meet Neill – General Manager Junction Food and Drink
May 19, 2021
Meet the Junction family
Anyone that has visited Junction Food and Drink will know that we are about family. Ours AND yours. It’s one of the many things that make us different. Yes, we’re a food hall. Yes, we have world-class eateries that deliver on both taste and service excellence. And, yes, we are known for delivering great entertainment, events and a whole other host of fun festivities. However, the importance of community, giving back and realness, are the items at the forefront of what drives our decisions at Junction Food and Drink.
This ethos clearly impacts profoundly on who works at Junction – ‘our home away from home’. We’re made up of good, wholesome people, because that’s who we choose to surround ourselves with. As such, our team radiates positive energy, warmth and a can-be-felt-at-the-door welcoming vibe. Without a positive atmosphere, success is not possible.
So, we got to thinking that we’d like to share a little more about ourselves with you. So, first off, we put our General Manager, Neill in the hot seat and asked him some normal and some slightly left-of-center questions. We think he’s done well. Look, he’s a little nuttier than we thought (but we’ll just call it ‘character’ – haha!).
1. Where did your love of cooking come from? Does a specific memory stand out?
My passion for hospitality and cooking came from my family. I was blessed to have a mom that made a meal for us every evening that we were able to enjoy around our dinner table. My dad cooked for big holidays, the most impressionable for me was Christmas Eve. It was always a big production at our house with our whole family over. There was always shrimp cocktail and stuffed mushrooms for appetizers with a large roast of meat and my mom’s famous glazed carrots.
2. If you could prepare a meal for anyone, who would it be?
Anthony Bourdain, Grant Achatz, and David Chang.
(Yes, I picked three.)
3. What is your career highlight?
Opening Junction Food and Drink amidst a pandemic. Two others would be working at Blackberry Farm in TN and being the GM for Le Diplomate in DC, a Stephen Starr restaurant.
4. What is your favorite food item and what is your worst?
Favorite is cheese and charcuterie, though pizza and hot dogs rank pretty high as well. Worst is sunchokes. They taste like burning plastic for me, similar to when people think cilantro tastes like soap.
5. What is your favorite meal to cook at home?
Grilled steaks after they have been sous vide, bordelaise sauce with sauteed mushrooms, mashed potatoes, and grilled asparagus with lemon beurre blanc.
6. What was your funniest in-the-kitchen moment?
I was GM at Le Diplomate on a busy day and Bill Murray walked in out of the blue. In the past his people would set something up for him, but he just decided to show up. He saw how busy we were, so he walked back in the kitchen to help us out. It was amazing. He was so nice, personable, and genuine.
7. What is your favorite thing to do when not at work?
Eat out, play disc golf, fly fish, and ski.
8. Do you have a pet? If so, what is its name and it’s funniest/most loveable antics?
My wife and I have two, Peanut Butter and Jelly. They are two pit bull mixes that are brother and sister. We rescued them back around DC. Peanut Butter we nickname shadow since he always seems to be right behind you especially at the most inopportune moments. Jelly’s favorite move is to lay down right in the most traveled path. I think she does this to garner scratches.
9. What one word would you use to describe Junction Food and Drink?
10. When eating at Junction, which meals do you pick and why?
a. Spinach and Cheese empanada from Lazo Empanadas, this empanada flies under the radar but is amazing.
b. Pulled Pork sandwich from Smok with a side of potato salad. Don’t miss their sauces.
c. Prosciutto and Brie sandwich from Mr. Miner’s.
d. Any gelato from Sojourner’s.
e. The Red Rocks from Pete’s-A-Pie. I like to sub the jalapenos for mushrooms though.
f. The meat Gyro from Shawarma Shack. The layers of flavor are incredible.
g. Big Wave Taco has a great fish taco but the cauliflower one is really not to be missed.
h. Ebisu just put on these amazing spring rolls. There are no noodles as filler so it is just full of goodness. Both the chasu/shrimp and spicy tuna/shrimp are amazing. The dipping sauce it comes with is out of this world.
i. Cleaver has amazing burger and chicken sandwiches. If I have to choose one, the classic Cleaver’s wins but the Bacon Be Back is a close second.
j. Drip coffee at Sonder Coffee sponsor my daily great mood.
k. And last but definitely not least: any beer Pete Koury puts on draft at the Junction Bar is just amazing. Also the conjunction Junction hits the spot for a boozy whiskey cocktail.
11. If you could pick a superpower, what would it be?
Time travel though wings would be pretty cool.
12. Describe your ideal date night.
Any time I get to spend with my beautiful wife Angela. We are both in the hospitality industry, so it doesn’t matter what we do. When we have time to spend together doing anything is it really special.
13. What do you enjoy about patio dining?
What is there not to enjoy? Colorado’s weather is amazing. Any time spent on a patio dining can’t be beat.
14. Who is your favorite sports team?
I don’t know if I should answer this – haters gonna hate. It’s the New England Patriots.
15. What is your favorite unhealthy, “just-can’t-say-no-to” junk food?
Triscuits and Cracker Barrel Vermont Cheddar or Tillamook White Extra Sharp Cheddar. I buy both at Costco. Hahaha.
16. Do you have a hidden talent?
I went to culinary school at the CIA in Hyde Park, NY. Both my wife and I love cooking. I do brew beer as well, although it is hard to do in our current apartment.