Judges’ Choice Winners
Best Appetizer – Beaujolais Braised Petite Redbird Coq au Vin by Michael Long, Opus Restaurant, Littleton. Beautifully sauced drummettes served with pearl onion and a shave of black truffle. The dish was similar to one that Long prepared the previous week the Denver International Wine Festival, where it was also much praised. Long likes to serve three drummettes on a three-compartment plate, but only two are visible here, shown as he presented it to us judges. Not a flattering photo of the chef, but the judging moved along fast and so did he.
Best Entrée – Duck Cordon Bleu by Cade Nagy, Catering by Design, Denver – Mushroom-spätzle casserole, grilled arugula, dried cherry salad and house-cured prosciutto chips made a multi-textured, multi-color dish with complementary flavora. The chip actually was standing up straight out of the casserole, a distinctive presentation that doesn’t really show in this image.
Best Dessert – Cranberry Tart with Brie Fonduta by Brendon Doyle, Jonesy’s EatBar. “Tart” is an Americanized name for a French clafoutie in which the fruit combines into the batter. The fruit of choice was, cranberries which make me think of autumn, and this tart was topped by a creamy melted Brie encircled by Pinot Noir reduction and additional Brie. Doyle said that he likes these grandmotherly plates. To my eye, the busy pattern detracted from the presentation, but nothing could detract from the taste.
People’s Choice Winners
Best Appetizer – Duck Raviolis in a Duck Jus Reduction by Jean-Luc Voegele, Westin Tabor Center. Truffles and leeks, julienned and crisp-fried, made this a winner. Interestingly, he was also the People’s Choice winner at the Denver International Wine Festival. Bottom line: the “people” really like Voegele’s dishes — an so do I.