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Video: Olive & Finch: Newest Kid On The Block in Uptown

Video: Olive & Finch: Newest Kid On The Block in Uptown
Video: Olive & Finch: Newest Kid On The Block in Uptown
Carri Wilbanks

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Olive & Finch, in Denver's Uptown Neighborhood, has a definitive European Flair. Mary Nguyen, the chef and creator, wanted a spot that was casual but still served delicious food and coffee. I had the chance to catch up more with Mary to learn more about the concept. For a video interview click here.

Q: How did the idea for "Olive & Finch" come to be?

A: I really wanted to create a place in Denver that draws on the tradition of local, handcrafted, fresh food prepared daily. At Olive & Finch you’ll find a marketplace and café serving chef-prepared cuisine that’s fast, affordable and convenient. I wanted a place that offered fresh baked pastries, a full coffee bar, fresh-pressed juices, artisan sandwiches, hearty soups, tasty salads and a variety of prepared foods in our marketplace are available to-go for those folks that keep a busy life. We are committed to making our food from scratch using organic & locally-grown produce, & all natural, sustainable meats & dairy whenever possible. I also wanted to provide great food and options for those who have dietary restrictions.

2. How have your travels inspired the concept?

My husband and I travel to Europe every year and I have always been enamored by the markets and cafes that we visit. Olive & Finch was definitely inspired by the markets and cafés that dot the European countryside.

3. How did you discover your love for cooking? How did that translate to opening P17 and Street Kitchen?

Growing up cooking and food was always a big part of our family life. I started my a corporate catering company in 2001 and served box lunches to local businesses. At the same time, I worked at several restaurants in the Denver area to gain experience in the restaurant industry and worked up the ladder into management positions. I even became an executive sushi chef in Denver. In 2005, I opened my first restaurant, Parallel Seventeen. We are now celebrating its eighth year in business this August.

4. What are some of the biggest challenges you face as chef and restaurant owner? And biggest rewards?

My biggest challenge is time. Not only do I own Olive & Finch, I also own Street Kitchen and Parallel Seventeen in Denver's Uptown. Juggling multiple restaurants can be challenging. I always want to make sure that I am at the restaurants as much as possible and available to the staff as much as they need me.

5. What do you most love about Colorado? There are many things that I love about Colorado so I can’t just pick one. Like most people I enjoy the weather here. I love that we truly have four seasons here, and that the sun shines throughout all of those seasons. Colorado has a great food scene! In my eyes it can’t be beat! There is so much room for growth and opportunity. I believe the strong sense of community that has been cultivated by the residents of Colorado are another reason why I adore this state. People are always so nice and friendly! What’s not to love about Colorado?!

6. What is something readers would be surprised to know about you or your business?

I earned two degrees, one in economics and another in international affairs. After I graduated from college, I was a successful investment banker. During my college years I had started to cook. I had every intention to continue my career in finance, but then I became more interested in cooking than making money. This passion for cooking grew, and I decided to leave my finance job and work at restaurants to learn from the best.