Category Archives: Award

Denver Chef to Cook at Beard Pork-A-Palooza

Justin Brunson among 10 selected chefs.

JamesBeardFoundation-logoAs it says on that chef’s apron that is a  popular gift for hefty home cooks, “Never trust a skinny chef.”  Bu that measure,  chef-owner Justin Brunson of Denver’s Old Major, Masterpiece Kitchen and Masterpiece Delicatessen is one of the most trustworthy chefs around.

Chef Justin Brunson.
Chef Justin Brunson.

His skill and rep for his way with meats, not his BMI, earned him an invitation to at the James Beard Foundation’s Pork-A-Palooza on October 4 at the James Beard House. The kitchen cadre:

  • Stephen Gerike, The National Pork Board. Des Moines, IA
  • Jason Alley. Comfort and Pasture, Richmond, VA.
  • Justin Brunson. Old Major, Masterpiece Deli and Masterpiece Kitchen, Denver.
  • Brad Farmerie. Public, New York, and Saxon + Parole, New York.
  • Jose Garces*. Garces Group, Chicago; Moorestown, NJ; Palm Springs, CA; Philadelphia; Scottsdale, AZ, and Washington, D.C.
  • Paul Kahan.* One Off Hospitality Group, Chicago.
  • Adam Sappington. The Country Cat Dinner House and Bar, Portland, OR.
  • Chris Shepherd*. Underbelly, Houston.
  • Celeste Campise. Who’s Hungry?, Magazine and Room 1520, Chicago.
  • Jared Rouben. Moody Tongue Brewing Company, Chicago.

    *James Beard Foundation Award winners.

The cost of the dinner is $160 for Beard members and $210 for the general public.


Cosmo’s on Best College Town Pizza List

Thrillist-logoThrillist’s selection of the “21 Best College Town Pizza Joints in America” naturally included the University of Colorado, which means best pizza in Boulder. The site selected , writing:

You will not find the best pizza slice of your life in Boulder. But if it’s 2am and you’re a 21-year-old CU student with a powerful hunger after a powerful night of drinking, Cosmo’s slices are National site singles out “spicy ranch” (also on pizzeria’s own website).hard to beat. While plenty of students eat (and work!) there, locals often swing by for a cheap, quick bite. Each slice runs about $3, and is about the size of former CU basketball star Chauncey Billups’ leg. Don’t forget the spicy ranch, which elevates every bite of pizza. There’s a reason Cosmo began bottling this stuff and selling it in local supermarkets: it’s got a heat that lingers without being overpowering, and it meshes beautifully with the NY-style thin crust. You can dip without judgment at Cosmo’s. In fact, it’s encouraged.

The national site singles out “spicy ranch,” which also on pizzeria’s own website’s home page. Coincidence? I think not .Both Boulder locations are near campus (one east, one west), and there’s one each in Denver and Fort Collins.

Meanwhile, Travel & Leisure assembled a list of the country’s 30 most beautiful college campuses. CU-Boulder  is one, but the magazine picked a particularly unlovely photograph — an empty mottled field in the foreground, a jumble of buildings behind and the rounded lump of Flagstaff Mountain behind those. No signature sandstone buildings that the write-up lauds, no Old Main, no tree-studded Nolin quad, no Flatirons in the background, now snowcapped peaks referred to.  Not much thinking on the part of T&L.

Seafood Restaurant Wins Denver Burger Battle

Judges awarded top burger honors to Stoic & Genuine.

DenverBurgerBattle-logoI wasn’t at the sold-out Denver Burger Battle the other day, and I might not even write about it here except that I was tickled by the irony that Stoic & Genuine’s entry was selected as the best of the 15 entries selected by a panel of judges. Stoic & Genuine, one of the fine restaurants in Union Station, specializes in seafood, and the winning entry is offered on its lunch menu. The People’s Choice honors went to the Cherry Cricket, whose burgers are perennial favorites among carnivores.

Governor’s Cup Awarded to Top Wineries

Governor Hickenlooper presents “his” wine honors.

ColoradoWineGovCup-logoColorado’s robust wine industry celebrated its best wineries, cideries and meaderies (and I just made up those last two) at the Governor’s Cup do at the History Colorado Center. Governors do not always appear at this annual event, but Governor Hickenlooper was there, wineglass in hand, to announce winners of the wine competition for wines, ciders, meads and fruit wines produced in 2015.

In addition to a Hickenlooper handshake and a plaque, a dozen winning wines from grapes are part of the year’s Governor’s Cup Case, used for VIP occasions to promote the state’s wines and related beverages.  Colorado Wine Industry Development Boardnotes that there are currently 140 wineries in the state, The award event included small plates from some of the Front Range’s leading chefs. Here are some pix:

Chefs Samir Mohammed of the History Center's Café Rendezvous and function space and Daniel Asher of Boulder's soon-to-open River and Woods.
Chefs Samir Mohammed of the History Center’s Café Rendezvous and function space and Daniel Asher of Boulder’s soon-to-open River and Woods.
Getting ready to set out small plates wiith big flavors.
Getting ready to set out small plates with big flavors.
Menus at each tasting station were wine-forward with food secondary.
Menus at each tasting station were wine-forward with food secondary.
Summer beets, Morbier cheese and black garlic and mint vinaigrette from Mark Mark Reggiannini of Denver's Café Marmotte.
Summer beets, Morbier cheese and black garlic and mint vinaigrette from Mark Mark Reggiannini of Denver’s Café Marmotte.
“Not bad for a software engineer,” commented my husband, who once worked with Nancy James shown here with Governor John Hickenlooper. Nancy and her husband’s Whitewater Hill Vineyards captured three awards for its remarkable reds.

Two Hawker Stalls Awarded Michelin Stars

Singapore a hotbed of fabulous street food.

singaporeflagNo white tablecloths. No polished wood. No polished waiters either at two modest hawker stalls that were astonishingly and deservedly awarded prestigious stars with the publication of the first Michelin Guide to Singapore that features 29 dining venues In addition to fine dining establishments, the Michelin evaluators had their work cut out for them checking out 100-plus open-air “hawker” centers and some 6,000 stalls selling traditional food.

Chan Hong Meng has been making the honored Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle for 35 years. Even before Michelin bestowed its star on it, people never had a problem finding that stall in the Chinatown Complex, because there is always a line. The 51-year-old Chan serves 150 portions of his signature chicken rice dish each lunchtime for less than $2 a portion. He told reporters that he has no immediate plans to increase the price of his food.

Chef Chan Hong Meng does the cooking and chopping at his Michelin-starred food stall. Two assistants take orders, dish out rice and collect the money. Bing Images.
Chef Chan Hong Meng does the cooking and chopping at his Michelin-starred food stall. Two assistants take orders, dish out rice and collect the money. Bing Images.

Tang Shay Sang’s Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle located, according to the website, “Behind Immigration and Checkpoint Authority Building,” also specializes in noodle dishes but the favored protein is pork. “One and Only Original (No Branch)” proclaims a sign.

Singapore is the first south-east Asian country to be rated by the Michelin Guide. I’m hungry.

Governor’s Cup Honors Colorado Wines

Denver event to honor winning wines, plus top chefs’ food sampling.

ColoradoWineGovCup-logoGovernor John Hickenlooper was famously a beer guy, opening the Wynkoop Brewery with three colleagues back in 1988, the year that I moved to Colorado. He now presides over a state with a robust wine industry too, and on August 4, the winning wines from the annual Governor’s Cup are revealed in a public tasting event at the Colorado History Center.

The Colorado Wine Governor’s Cup is the only statewide wine- making competition exclusively for the Centennial State’s wines, including 236 wines from 33 local wineries.  The panel of such experts as sommeliers, chefs, writers and wine experts annually evaluate the submitted wines to select the 18 (12 grape wines and 6 cider/mead/fruit wines). They are assembled into the “Wine Case” used to promote Colorado’s best.

The Governor’s Cup celebration on August 4 provides the opportunity to taste all the medalists  paired with small bites prepared by some of the area’s best chefs. These include Elise Wiggins (formerly Panzano and soon opening Cattivella) , Mark Reggiannini (Cafe Marmotte), Ben Davis (Tony’s Market Dry Creek) and Ashlea Tobeck (Escoffier School of Culinary Arts).

VIP entry ($90) is at 6:30 p.m. and includes a chance to sample 2015 winners paired with an extended menu by Chef Samir Mohammad of the History Colorado Center’s Café Rendezvous. General admission ($45) begins at 7:30 p.m.  The event ends at 9:30 p.m. Governor Hickenlooper presents the awards to the wineries. FoMoInfo or tickets, call 303-869-9177 or click here.

Don’t expect to see Canyon Wind Cellars, which is closing on July 31, having planted its first grape vines in 1991, early in the current Colorado wine era.  The owners and wine-makers, Jay and Jennifer Christianson, are retiring. I wish them well.

Gluten-Free Restaurant in The Springs Cited

Coquette’s is singled out for its baked goods.

Coquetts-logoColorado celiacs who cannot eat gluten and also those who prefer gluten-free rejoice! Coquette’s Bistro & Bakery in Colorado Springs has been named one of the country’s best.  Here’s what In Love With Food posted in “10 of the Best Gluten-Free Bakeries in the U.S.” posted:

Award-winning, family-run, inspired by the Greek tradition of valuing food as not just something to eat, but something to celebrate, there really wasn’t any doubt this place would be a hit. This spot serves as a full restaurant, with appetizers, burgers on freshly baked gluten-free bread and even sells its gluten-free flour blend.

I’m happy that a business outside of metro Denver appeared on a national list, but my choice would have been for the Rheinlander Bakery in Arvada. It’s an exceptional, family-owned German bakery that went gluten-free some years ago when owner Ed Dimmer’s wife was diagnosed with celiac. It’s a bakery, period — and has been for more than half a century.