Cochon 555 Chef Roster Announced

Five top Colorado chefs in heritage pork competition.

Logo from 2011, the last time Denver was a stop on the Cochon 555 tour.
Logo from 2011, the last time Denver was a stop on the Cochon 555 tour.

In a recent post, I shared the good news for Denver foodies that Cochon 555, a chef competition created to showcase the wonderful meat that comes from heritage pigs, is returning to Denver on March 9 after a five-year absence. The event features five top local five chefs, five pigs and five wineries to celebrate breed diversity and family farming. Ruben Garcia, executive chef at The Ritz-Carlton Denver, will lead the panel of judges in selecting Denver’s Prince or Princess of Porc, who will go on to  the national finals at the 2014 Food & Wine Classic in Aspen this June.

The chefs were selected on the basis of their support of the local food and farming community, raw culinary talent and commitment to whole animal utilization, with extra credit for naming specific heritage breeds and citing specific farms on  their menus.

The Chefs

Each chef must offer six dishes in this, the first nose-to-tail competition. In addition to his or her name in culinary lights, the winner gets a four-day wine experience to Rioja, Spain’s most prominent wine region, so it would seem prophetic for Jasinski to win, but all five chefs are at the top of their game, so it’s no slam dunk for her.

Also at Cochon 555

A highlight of the event is the presentation of butchering as a spectator sport.  Jason Nauert of the Rocky Mountain Institute of Meat will butcher a pig for the audience in a pop-up butcher shop; Brian Busker and Toru Watanabe of Matsuhisa Vail will prepare an additional whole pig in a late-night Asian Speakeasy style before dessert and the awards ceremony.

  • A welcome cocktail from Four Roses Bourbon.
  • The Bourbon Bar presented by Breadcrumb by Groupon featuring Eagle Rare, Buffalo Trace, Breckenridge Bourbon, Hirsch, Templeton Rye and Luxardo.
  • Libations include Crispin Ciders, Wines of Rioja and Cochon Rose.
  • Guests will also have the chance to pair a selection of Goose Island beers with the chef-prepared dishes and food courses offered throughout the evening.
  • TarTare Bar featuring Creekstone Farms and John Little of Harman’s Eat and Drink.
  • An artisan cheese bar with Rogue Creamery and La Brea Bakery.
  • Swine & Sweets signature ‘ice cream social’ desserts featuring Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.

Guests will indulge in a literal and figurative pig-out, what with 30 pork dishes to sample and all sorts of other food and beverages. Click here for tickets — $125 for general admission  (5 p.m. entry to the event) and $200 VIP admission (4 p.m. entry and VIP extras).

Noodle Museum Mascot Shovels Snow

Yokohama attraction’s mascot put to work.

CupNoodlesMuseum-logoYokohama Japan’s CupNoodles Museum is an interactive ode to the late Momofuku Ando of Nissin Food Products who invented instant noodles and thereby revolutionized ramen noodles, escalating them from a Japanese specialty to noodle cups available around the world. Yokohama is having a snowy winter, so the museum released a delightful image of its one-mascot snow-removal operation.


And yes, fabled New York chef/restaurateur David Chang named his groundbreaking Japanese noodle bar-inspired restaurant Momofuku in honor of Momofuku Ando.

Runza Outpost in Colorado

Nebraska specialty sold in Loveland & cited on national list. recently published “12 Regional Foods Worth Traveling For.” One is a Nebraska specialty called  the runza. It’s kind of a stuffed, rolled sandwich. I’m not sure what came first — the generic use of the name or the Runza Hut, a restaurant that started serving it in 1949,  Here’s how the foodie site describes it:

“There are more than 50 locations of Runza in and around Lincoln, Neb., as well as one in Colorado, two in Iowa, and two in Kansas, and outside of that you’re simply not going to find their signature item, known as the runza. Sort of like a supercharged Hot Pocket, the Runza is a hot stuffed sandwich with Russian and Germanic origins, with the dough completely enveloping the filling. The classic, original runza is filled with a mixture of ground beef, onions, and cabbage, but the chain also sells them in cheese, Swiss mushroom, cheeseburger, and BBQ bacon varieties.”

Turns out that curious Front Rangers and homesick Nebraskans don’t have to travel all that far. Colorado’s lone Runza Restaurant is Loveland. There used to be two, but the Fort Collins location closed. Who knew?

in  Runza Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Continental Sausage’s Prize-Winning Pastrami

Good Food Award goes to company’s elk pastrami.

GoodFoodAwardDenver’s Continental Sausage, which has been producing European-style gourmet sausages and other meats since 1969, has won a 2014 Good Food Award for its popular bison pastrami. The Good Food Awards honor companies that create food products with real, local ingredients and also with respect for animals through economically and socially sustainable practices.

Seedling Projects organized the Good Food Awards with the help of food producers, farmers, food journalists and independent grocers. This year’s winners were selected from 1,450 entries from all 50 states in a blind tasting held in September. The 225 judges, experts in their various industries, flew to San Francisco for a full day of tasting. Those that rose to the top were subject to a rigorous vetting process to verify they met the sustainability and social responsibility criteria to win a Good Food Award, which exemplifies excellence in both taste and responsible production.

Seedling Project describes itself as a “do thank” rather than a think tank because it “specializes in getting projects off the ground and building and activating and diverse community around each project to ensure it flourishes.”

La Choza on the Move

Mexican food street food stand relocating to another street

LaChoze-logoLa Choza, a cheerful food stand next to the Sinclair station on the Boulder end of the Diagonal Highway, is closing on February 21 and preparing to relocate. For a time, its future was uncertain, and the owner even posted signs asking patrons for suggestions about a suitable site. I asked him whether he had a place yet, and he told me to La Choza would probably move to Pearl and 48th Street. The property on which the gas station and an already-shuttered auto shop are located has been sold — presumably ready for redevelopment.

A little hut in a gas station parking lot serves inexpensive, freshly made Mexican fare.
A little hut in a gas station parking lot serves inexpensive, freshly made Mexican fare.

You know that La Choza wears the mantle of authenticity by the steady stream of Mexican workers and thrifty college students out front, waiting for the orders. Freshly prepared and tasty versions of Mexican favorites plus burgers and hot dogs are packed in Styrofoam clamshells and passed through the window in exchange for very modest sums of money. It’s cash only, and since the gas station shut down, beverages are no longer available on site because at La Choza, it’s all about breakfast and lunch food.

Beef quesadillas.
A quartet of soft chicken tacos each made with double corn tortillas.
Beef torta, the Mexican word for sandwich with corn chips.
Beef torta, the Mexican word for sandwich with corn chips.

Price check: Lunch items, $3-$7.50; sides, 75¢-$2.

La Choza on Urbanspoon


Broncos Cookies — Orange All the Way

Rooting for a sweet Broncos victory with orange sugar cookies

Broncos cookies on the cooling rack.
Broncos cookies on the cooling rack.

For a Super Bowl watch party tomorrow, I was assigned a sweet ending to an evening that promises gluttony. I tinkered with orange cookie recipes to make them Bronco-esque. No one will mistake them for store-bought, because they are uneven. But I am pleased with the way they taste, and I hope my fellow fans will like them too.

Broncos Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment.


2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 egg at room temperature
1 tablespoon freshly granted orange zest
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
red, yellow and blue food coloring
4 drops orange extract


1 With the mixer on high speed, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
2 Add egg and orange zest, beat for an additional 30 seconds.
3 In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt. Sift flour mixture into  butter mixture, 1/4 at a time and mix. Add orange extract, 6 drops of red food coloring and 2 drops of yellow food coloring. Mix until combined.
4 Line two baking sheets Place heaping teaspoonsful about an inch apart on the baking sheets. I put some of the dough too close together, meaning that I ended up with some cookies that ran together. When separated, these had a flat side or two rather than the desired round cookies.
5 Bake for 10 minutes or until just turning golden around the edges. Remove from oven briefly and add one drop of blue food coloring to the center of each cookie.  Bake for another minute or two. Remove the baking sheets from the oven for a minute or two to let the cookies solidify a bit, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Go Broncos!

Culinary Showcase at Keystone

February events highlight the resort’s restaurants, wine and beer.

KeystoneResort-logoKeystone’s second Savor the Slopes features a month-long rotating showcase of the resort’s  highly regarded restaurants. Each night throughout the month of February, Keystone organizes an evening event highlighting a range of culinary offerings, wine pairings, cocktail tastings and frothy beers. Weekly themes showcase the best of food, from February 1 to 9, wine from February 10 to 16, spirits from February 17 to 23 and beer from February 24to 28. All tastings begin  at 4:30 p.m. A complete schedule of events including nightly venues and topics is available at

Savor the Slopes offers serious foodies and casual attendees alike the chance to experience the resort’s array of culinary offerings in a relaxed setting and affordable price — $25 per event. Whether it’s the stunning setting of the historical Keystone Ranch or the breathtaking splendor of the mountaintop Alpenglow Stube, Keystone was a leader in offering fine dining opportunities at a ski resort. In addition to three AAA Four-Diamond rated restaurants,  less formal dining options include bistros, bars and tap houses across the resort. Savor the Slopes provides an opportunity to try out those in the spotlight any given week this month.

Claire Walter's Colorado-oriented but not Colorado-exclusive blog about restaurants, food and wine events, recipes and related news. For address of any restaurant, click on the Zomato icon at the end of the post.