From a pig blowout to an oyster celebration, a craft-beer collaboration and a dinner dedicated to whiskey and butter, here are our 10 picks for Denver's top food-and-drink events in March.
An impressive roster of heavyweight mixologists, sommeliers and local and national chefs plan to take part in The Broadmoor's inaugural Taste & Savor epicurean weekend (pictured above), a culinary festival that includes seminars and panel discussions, cooking demonstrations, wine dinners, a Saturday night gala parading dozens of dishes and a midmorning Sunday brunch featuring turn-of-the-century cocktails. Hobnobbing opportunities abound with the tapped talent: Sissy Biggers; wine geek Steve Olson; John Sundstrom (Lark, Seattle); Jessica Koslow (SQIRL, Los Angeles); Curtis Duffy (Grace, Chicago); Danny Trace (Brennan's of Houston); and local luminaries Frank Bonanno (Mizuna, Luca, etc.), Kelly Liken (Restaurant Kelly Liken), Alex Seidel (Fruition and Mercantile Dining & Provision) and Tyler Wiard (Elway's Cherry Creek). Two-day packages start at $750 per person, and tickets are available on The Broadmoor website.
1 Lake Ave.; 719-623-5112
As a precursor to Cochon 555 Denver, Chris Thompson, executive chef of The Nickel, welcomes guest chefs Justin Brunson (Old Major), Paul Reilly (Beast + Bottle), Theo Adley (The Squeaky Bean), Matt Selby (Central Bistro and Bar) and Cochon 555 founder Brady Lowe for a five-course, hyper-local feast paired with libations from Breckenridge Distillery. The dinner theme, “A Nickel Bag of Porc,” is part of Cochon's “Chef’s Course Dinner Series," which benefits the James Beard Foundation. The $125 ticket price also includes a reception with canapés from each chef and tastings of Reserve Prosciutto di Parma. The dinner begins at 7 PM; purchase tickets here.
1100 14th St.; 720-889-2128
Cochon continues tonight with its “Large Format Feast” at Colt & Gray, a four-course dinner from chefs Kyle Foster and Nelson Perkins. The menu — side-by-side dishes of humanely certified and responsibly farmed pork and beef — spotlights Creekstone Duroc pork and Creekstone Farm Black Angus beef matched with Antica Napa Valley Chardonnay 2013, Antica Townsend Vineyard Cabernet 2012 and the 2009 Badia a Passignano Gran Selezione. Following dinner and dessert, Cochon's Brady Lowe is hosting an informal discussion about artisanal cheese (save room for the cheese course), while Kim Wiss, exec chef of Antica, will discuss wines. The dinner starts at 7 PM, and tickets, priced at $110 each, are available here.
1553 Platte St.; 303-477-1447
Cochon's epic pork blowout (pictured above), an annual feeding frenzy that's become a Denver food-nerd favorite, hogs the limelight starting at 5 PM at The Ritz-Carlton, when five local chefs compete for the title of "Prince or Princess of Porc." The squad of challengers includes Kelly Whitaker (Basta and Cart-Driver), Matt Vawter (Mercantile Dining & Provision), John Little (Harman’s Eat & Drink), Christopher Thompson (The Nickel) and Rich Byers (The Corner Office), all of whom are tasked with creating a maximum of six dishes from their own heritage-breed hog. The champion, judged by the public and a sequestered jury of food-industry types, heads to the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen in June to compete at Grand Cochon, where someone will be crowned the "King or Queen of Porc."
At the heart of Cochon is the chef smackdown, but there are plenty of other highlights: Theo Adley, executive chef of The Squeaky Bean, also has his own pig, from which he'll create a wholly separate pork-centric, Japanese-themed barbecue menu. Kate Kavanaugh and Josh Curtiss, owners of Western Daughters Butcher Shoppe, plan to treat guests to a pop-up butchering demonstration; an artisanal cheese bar, courtesy of the Boulder-based Cured; a mezcal bar; a Buffalo Trace bourbon punch reception; an oyster display from Humboldt: Farm Fish Wine, and a tartare bar featuring pig bites from chefs Justin Brunson and Nathan Stambaugh (Creekstone Farms). Tickets to Cochon are $125 ($200 for an early admittance VIP package), and available on the website. (Disclaimer: The author of this post provides communications consulting to The Squeaky Bean).
1881 Curtis St.; 303-312-3800
The annual Jax Fish House High West Oyster Fest (pictured above) returns for its third year tonight at eTown Hall in Boulder. Paying homage to the almighty mollusk, the celebration includes a spread of oysters on the half shall, cured salmon, tuna poke, gumbo and jambalaya, peel-and-eat shrimp, cocktails and beer, oyster-eating and -shucking competitions, live music from Denver DJ Styles Davis, and a special guest appearance from Louis Psihoyos, founder of the Oceanic Preservation Society and Oscar-winning director of The Cove. All proceeds and donations directly benefit There With Care, a Colorado nonprofit. Tickets are available at all Jax locations or at www.etown.org, and the $50 price tag includes four food and drink tickets.
1535 Spruce St.; 303-443-8696
Award-winning Oregon winemaker Andrew Rich (founder of Andrew Rich Wines) is making his way through Denver this week, stopping at various restaurants across the city, including Cafe Max, to host food-and-wine pairing dinners. Along with vino, guest chef Rachel Kesley of FiddleSprout Foods is preparing a four-course dinner. The shindig starts at 6 PM, and seats are $85 per person, including tax and gratuity; reservations can be made here.
2412 E. Colfax Ave.; 303-333-0003
Now in its second year, this global feast of gluttony features around-the-world tastes from more than a dozen Denver restaurants, including Maria Empanada (pictured above), Adelitas Cocina Y Cantina, Little India's and DiFranco's Italian. “Food is an important part of all cultures,” says Casey Berry, founder of Imbibe Events, a co-sponsor of the three-hour food fest. “You don’t just try new foods. You talk about them and you experience them, and this event will give attendees full stomachs and open minds.” International wines, beers and exotic cocktails, along with live music and dancing, are part of the lineup too. The fest kicks off at 7 PM, and tickets, priced at $30, are available here.
Now in its 11th year, this heartfelt fundraiser for the Denver Dumb Friends League, an event founded by Denver radio host and author Gabby Gourmet, struts the talents of Denver's top kitchen pros, including Brian Laird (Sarto's), Dana Rodriguez (Work & Class), Darrell Truett (Barolo Grill), Keegan Gerhard (D Bar) and Daniel Asher (Root Down and Linger). Each chef cooks a multicourse dinner partnered with wines, and 100% of the proceeds benefits the homeless pets at the animal welfare organization. Ticket prices start at $250 per person, and a limited number of “Top Dog” tables are available for $300 per person; call Melannie Grimme 720-241-7150 to make reservations.
Last year, Collaboration Fest, part of Colorado Craft Beer Week (March 21-29) untapped 50 beers. This year, the don't-miss beer fest is back with more than 70 collaborative brews, some of which are limited-edition releases, and all of which are jointly created by at least one member of the Colorado Brewers Guild who've partnered with breweries from Colorado and other states and countries. “Beer is in Denver’s DNA, and we want to help promote an event that will draw brewers, beer enthusiasts and visitors from around the nation to the Mile High City every year to taste one-of-a-kind, short-term creations that will be here, and then gone,” says Richard Scharf, president and CEO of VISIT DENVER, one of the event organizers. The festivities take place from 3-7 PM on the club level of Sports Authority Field at Mile High, and general admission tickets are $50 per person or $75 each for "Collaboration Fanatic" tickets, which includes early admission, beer snacks and a custom growler. Purchase tickets here.
Central Bistro & Bar chefs Matt Selby and Bowen Hosford team up with Jake Norris, co-founder of Laws Whiskey House, for a five-course dinner favoring whiskey and butter. The menu, says Selby, integrates Laws Whiskey grains, both fresh and spent, and ingredients aged and cured in charred whiskey barrels. Each course (think everything from butter-poached lobster and pig's blood pasta puttanesca to seared quail with barley, roasted grapes, sage and goat butter beurre blanc) will be paired with whiskey shots, whiskey cocktails or wine. The dinner starts at 6 PM and seats are $55 each; call 303-477-4582 to reserve yours.