Locals and lucky visitors know the Denver Botanic Gardens for their year-round horticultural displays outdoors and in the soaring conservatory, gardening classes, concerts, plant sales and Blossoms of Light every December. But the monthly cooking classes for adults (except in summer) and weekly classes for children (Fridays during the summer) are less well known.
Even less known than these culinary classes are the Gather dinners, pop-up feasts offered roughly quarterly with guests chefs from leading local restaurants presenting creative dinners for a maximum of 75 guests. Previous chefs were Alex Seidel of Fruition, Elise Wiggins of Panzano and Hosea Rosenberg, Blackbelly Catering and “Top Chef” Season 5 winner.
Yesterday evening was my first opportunity to experience a Gather dinner — and what an experience it was. Two long tables were set up in the narrow Orangerie with a garden view and indoor fruit trees in one direction and a view of the opulent conservatory plants in the other.
Last evening’s guest chef was Daniel Asher from Root Down and Linger, two restaurants that have been on my Denver Dining bucket list since they opened. Asher created what he called a plant-centric four-course menu, more nuanced and elaborate that he could do in a restaurant dinner menu.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The evening began with gorgeous ruby red cocktails mixed by Mike Henderson, who according to his two-sided business card is both Root Down’s “cocktail service tech” (which is yet another extension of “mixologist” and “bartender” before that) and also Linger’s “spiritual advisor” (which seems just plain whimsical).
Then it was time to dine. Chef Asher is a gifted culinarian and committed advocate of fresh and local products. He not only conceived of a brilliant menu full of veggie wonderfulness, but presented each dish artistically — and named each one cleverly. My friend friend and fellow foodie, Toni Dash, who has serious gluten issues, was able to clean the plate at each course, and even though the macadamia-sesame crust on the dessert was reportedly gluten-free, she avoided it — in case. Continue reading