Chef Bradford Heap has a reputation of being hard to work for. That’s according to him at least.
“I’m more of an alienator and more of that old-school hard-ass,” he says. “I’m so intense and so driven, and I want to be successful. I’m such an aggro, type-A freak.
“There’s nothing wrong with me being a driving hard-ass,” he continues, “until it doesn’t work anymore.”
Self-awareness is a virtue Heap has cultivated over time. In conversation, it helps hedge the blunt claims he makes about his role as a leader in Boulder’s food scene and in the national push toward sustainability. In about an hour and a half on the patio of his Niwot restaurant, Colterra (he also runs Boulder’s SALT and Wild Standard), Heap describes himself with words like iconoclast and visionary, and compares his sustainability efforts to Gandhi and Thoreau’s civil disobedience — seconds before or after acknowledging he can sound myopic, egotistical and self-infatuated.
In literally one breath, he’ll say, “I think people are stupid. I don’t think people are informed at all. If they were, my restaurants would be on a wait for seven years.” And in the next, he’ll say, “I just try to have compassion to let people be where they are and not judge them, because the more judgment I have for the outside world, the more judgment I put on myself, and I can’t bear that self-judgment.”
“God, I’m full of shit, aren’t I?” he asks at one point.