Nearly 30 restaurants are expected at the third annual Denver Food & Wine Classic this Sunday, August 26 between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m., at the Pepsi Center grounds. I would be more excited about this event if there weren’t so many chains (including The Cheesecake Factory, Maggiano’s Little Italy, Nik-N-Willy’s Pizza, PF Chang’s, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Ted’s Montana Grill). These include some of the better chains, but still…
The best part will be the Steel Chef competition, between 1:15 and 4:30 — which sounds as if each chef will cook separately rather than head-to-head. Slated to compete are Jennifer Jasinski, owner/chef of Rioja and Bistro Vendome, Denver; Ian Kleinman, chef de cuisine of O’s Steak & Seafood in the Westin Westminster; and Max Mackissock of Vita Restaurant, whose location I don’t know.
At the Wine Cafe, Trinchero Family Estates and distributor W.J. Deutsch & Sons will pour. Jim Beam and other high-test booze is also sponsoring. Event tickets are $50 and are available at several area wine and liquor stores.
Meanwhile, in addition to the yesterday’s a post about Alba Ristorante debuting in Boulder and a recent one about Wolfgang Puck’s Spago coming to Beaver Creek for the start of the ski season. Here are some other happenings on the local restaurant scene. I haven’t been to any of these yet, so consider this informational only:
- Chez Thuy reopened after a remodel. 2655 28th Street, Boulder; 303-442-1700.
- French 250 is the latest occupant of the space that long housed the much-loved Bistro Adde Brewster; 250 Steele Street, Denver; 303-331-0250,
- Izakaya Den has opened in one of Denver’s delightful little neighborhood commercial centers; 1518 South Pearl Street, Denver; 303-777-0691.
- Tambien Cantina has replaced Sketch, also in Cherry Creek North and also in the same building as French 250. 250 Steele Street, Denver; 303-333-17633.
- Table Mesa is new in Denver’s southern suburbs; 7301 South Santa Fe Drive, Littleton; 303- 962-8888.
- Theorie is the new name for a downtown Denver restaurant that was originally (and briefly) called The Abbey; 1920 Market Street, Denver; the phone number might be 303-296-2255.
I recently posted news that two Colorado chefs — Sean Yontz, owner/chef of Chama, consulting partner/chef at Mezcal and the newly opened Tambien, and Chris Douglas, owner/chef of Tula Latin Bistro — will be cooking at New York’s James Beard House on August 22. Their theme will be Contemporary Latin Celebration. I’ve since learned that Matt Mine, executive chef at Denver’s recently opened Oceanaire Seafood Room will be joining Oceanaire chefs from six other locations to present the Ultimate Seafood Expereience at the Beard House on September 5.
If you’re in Colorado, you don’t have to fly to New York for Beard House-worthy food, because on September 28, Denver will join 19 other U.S. cities to host the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America, a national food festival celebrating the foundation’s 20th anniversary and the legacy of James Beard. Twenty cities, 20 years — catch that?
The talented chefs participating in the “Colorado Cooks for James Beard” dinner will be Frank Bonanno, chef/owner of Denver’s Mizuna and Luca d’Italia; Tim Love, James Beard Award nominee and chef/owner the Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Love Shack and Duce in Fort Worth, TX; Yasmin Lozada–Hissom, pastry chef at Duo in Denver’s Highlands neighborhood; Thomas Salamunovich, chef/owner of Larkspur in and the soon to open Watermark in Edwards; Alex Seidel, chef/owner of Denver’s Fruition, and Elise Wiggins, executive chef at Panzano, also in Denver. If you’re wondering how Texan Tim Love muscled his way into a Denver dinner, there is a Colorado connection. He worked his way to the helm of Uptown Bistro in Frisco, CO, where he was honored several times with foth the Taste of Breckenridge Grand Award and the Taste of the Mountains Award. It will be good to have him back, cooking in Colorado. Bobby Stuckey, James Beard Award Winner, master sommelier and co-owner of Boulder’s Frasca Food and Wine, will pair wines with each course.
This fabulous event on September 28 will take place at Panzano at the Hotel Monaco, with cocktails beginning at 6:00 p.m. and dinner at 7:00 p.m. Tickets cost $125 per person, and can be purchased by calling 303-395-2677 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The James Beard Foundation will donate a portion of the proceeds from the dinner to Operation Frontline Colorado, a Share Our Strength program.
On Saturday the 29th, the Williams-Sonoma store in the Cherry Creek Shopping Center will host a free Frestival Day from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with cooking demonstrations and cookbook signings by award-winning chefs, children’s educational activities and tastings of artisanal products. Tim Love will do one of the demonstration, but the time has not yet been set. If you want to see him perform his culinary magic, call 303-394-2226 closer to the date.
Two Denver area chefs are heading for New York to cook at the James Beard House on August 22. Sean Yontz opened Tamayo for Richard Sandoval’s restaurant group and is now the owner/chef of Chama, consulting partner/chef at Mezcal and the newly opened Tambien. Chris Douglas is owner/chef of Tula Latin Bistro. The two-chef team plans a five-course dinner paired with an extremely rare Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal, a Mexican distilled spirit made from the maguey plant, blending the bold flavors of Mexico, Spain and Central America overlaid with a Colorado flair. The dinner costs $125 for Beard members, $155 for all others. BTW, the Beard House has a no-tipping policy. If you wish to reserve, call 212-627-2308. If you’re in New York, or are simply curious, you can preview the menu on-line. Yontz and Douglas follow closely on the heels of Steven Topple of Beano’s Cabin at Beaver Creek, who prepared a pinot noir dinner there on August 9.
One of the best events during the four-day Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival will be the annual Blazing Pans Mountain Chef Cook-Off at 2:45 p.m. on Saturday, September 15 at the Village at Northstar. The cooking competition will pit current two-time champion Chris Banovich of Big Wave Burritos in the Village at Northstar against Jacques Cornelis, executive chef at the Resort at Squaw Creek at Squaw Valley. The Iron Chef format gives chefs one hour to create as many dishes as possible using a secret ingredient to be unveiled when the clock starts ticking. Passport tickets for Saturday festivities cost $45 and access a day-long program of food and wine events, including the Blazing Pans Mountain Chef Cook-Off, “Today’s American Barbeque” with chef Larks Kronmark, a Gourmet Marketplace, Big Kids’ Cooking Camp with chef Lara Ritchie and a cooking demonstration with executive chef Roy Siegel of the Ritz Carlton, San Francisco. For festival tickets (and lodging, if needed) call 888-229-2193 or go to the festival website.
If only I had known, I would have alerted you earlier to the Taste of Hartford. Twenty-seven restaurants in the capital of my home state have been offering $20.07 dinners since August 5 and will do so until August 11. I love these Taste of…. events, because they enable locals and visitors alike to get a good dinner deal at favorite restaurants and also try new ones. Chefs get exposure with a new clientele and restaurants build traffic during slow times, so it’s a win-win format.
Coming right up on Sunday, August 12, is the first annual Boulder Food & Wine Festival, which I previously wrote about. Scheduled from noon to 5:00 p.m., it features local restaurants’ creations using Colorado products and also a tasting of wines from Colorado wineries.
The Crested Butte Wild Mushroom Festival, that promises “to put the fun back in fungus,” takes place August 16-19 with a variety of specialized forays, workshops, cooking demonstrations/luncheons, a treasure hunt foray for youngsters aged six to 13 and experts on mushroom stuff. Visitors can by a three-day festival pass ($119.50), one-day pass ($49.50) or admission to individual events ($35-$39.50).
Saturday, August 18, is the annual Lafayette Peach Festival. Admission is free to the fruit-oriented street festival that takes place along three blocks of South Public Road. Admittedly, this hasn’t been the best year for Colorado’s fabled stone fruits, but organizers expect Palisade’s Morton’s Orchards to bring in 30,000 pounds of fresh, organic freestone peaches. The festival anticipates serving 4,500 servings of peach cobbler and 500 peach pies prepared by Hanna’s Specialty Foods and 2,500 peach smoothies. Other attractions include antiques and craft sales and children’s activities.
In southwestern Colorado, the Mesa Verde Wine and Art Festival takes place August 24-26 with wine tastings ($20 on festival day, $15 in advance) and wine maker dinners ($75) at the Metate Room in Mesa Verde National Park’s Far View Lodge and Joey’s Restaurant in Dolores. Guy Drew Vineyards in Cortez hosts an open house with live music on Sunday the 26th from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and that day, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the Dawg Days Chili Cookoff takes place at the Cortez Cultural Center. Something for everyone.
September 7-9 is the first Colorado Fest … Celebrating Colorado’s Food, Wine, Beer & Art in Gunnison and Crested Butte. The weekend begins on Friday evening in Gunnison with a free art gallery crawl, live music and a food and wine reception at the Gunnison Arts Center with David S. Carbonetti of Mountain Sommeliers and two Colorado winemakers ($11 in advance on-line, $15 at the door). The weekend in Gunnison, Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte offers food and wine pairings, a wine tasting with Colorado foods under the cottonwood trees, a beer festival and chili cook-off and a farmers market. Local restaurants offer fixed-price dinner menus of Colorado-only products and guests can participate in hands-on pottery and cooking classes, music and more. Other ticket prices range from $7 for Breakfast with a Viking Chef (Saturday morning) to $65 for a wine-maker dinner at the Timberline Restaurant (Sunday evening). Go to the festival’s website or call 877-448-1399 for reservations or more information.
A Taste of Colorado, the annual Labor Day Weekend extravaganza of food and entertainment, takes over Denver’s Civic Center Park from August 31 to September 3. Admission is free. Visitors pay for carnival rides, food and beverages — and of course, whatever crafts and other items they purchase. Hours are Friday,11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Monday, 10:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
The 16th annual Colorado Mountain Winefest in Palisade is an enduring and increasingly popular event that has grown up with the Colorado wine industry. The showcase for the Rocky Mountain Association of Vintners & Viticulturists is coming on September 13-16, with such activities as hands-on workshops of various sorts, wine and food pairings, dueling chef competitions, grape stomps, winery tours, winemaker competitions, a chocolate tasting, wine-maker dinners, a bicycle tour of the vineyards and more. The first-class VIP Pass is $140; individual event tickets range from $35 for a seminar on grape growing to $120 for a golf and wine package. Check the schedule or buy tickets online or for more information, call 970-464-0111 and 800-704-3667.
It is fitting that the epicurean summer that started with the 25th Annual Food & Wine Classic at Aspen wraps up with another prestigious festival at another luxurious mountain resort. The new Beaver Creek Wine and Spirits Festival, September 13-15, features visiting celebrity chefs and winners of the San Francisco International Wine Competition and San Francisco World Spirits Competition who will pair food, wine and spirits. Wine authority Anthony Dias-Blue, who also runs those San Francisco beverage competitions, and chefs Hubert Keller of Fleur de Lys, Richard Sandoval of Modern Mexican Restaurants (including Tamayo and Zengo in Denver) and Joseph Manzare of Zuppa, plus selected Beaver Creek chefs. will be on hand. Unusual offers include “Walk and Wine,” an outdoor experience pairing a wildflower hike led by experienced guides followed by a three-course wine pairing luncheon ($75), and “Fly Fish/Eat Fish” combining fly fishing instruction and a three-course seafood luncheon ($200). Renowned comedian Craig Shoemaker will provide plenty of laughs during a live “Cocktails and Comedy” performance at the Vilar Center for the Arts ($35). Seminars ($45), a grand tasting ($60) and a fabulous dinner at Splendido at the Chateau ($75) round up the festival. Tickets can be ordered from 970-845-TIXS.
First a disclaimer: I am not at BlogHer, a just-concluded conference for women bloggers — or blogging women. I do love the idea that there is a session just on food blogging, which in the context of the community of bloggers is called foodblogging.
I was intrigued by the session description, because it led me to some interesting food blogs I hadn’t known about before. I was cheered the notion that a key speaker on foodblogging has the middle (and presumably maiden) name of “Fish.” And I was struck by the irony that this session was sponsored by Butterball, a branded product that should be convicted of turkey (and turkey-eater) abuse because the birds are injected with a mixture of fat, broth, water and “flavor enhancers” that are supposed to make the meat juicier and give it more taste (which I suppose it does if fat and salt are your idea of taste) and creates a weird, unnatural texture. The session description read:
The Art of Foodblogging
Few blogging communities are as passionate, connected and consistent as foodbloggers. We’ll hear from a diverse group of foodbloggers as they dish about how they started following this passion online, what has surprised them (good and bad) about foodblogging and the foodblogging community, what they’ve learned about food, cooking, blogging and technology since they became dedicated foodbloggers, and how foodblogging and its community of
bloggers and readers has affected their offline lives and perspectives. Last year Shuna Fish Lydon told us how blogging has changed her world from the audience of our Opening Session. We’ve brought her back to tell us more, along with other great foodbloggers like Jasmine from Cardamom Addict, Nupur Kittur, Susan Voisin from Fatfree Vegan Kitchen and Alanna Kellogg. Kalyn Denny will be on hand to make sure that everyone in the room contributes, like a “Stone Soup” of a conversation. This session is sponsored by Butterball.