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Conversation, wine, and good food at the recent "High Alpine Low-Country" Guest House pop-up wine dinner. Photo by Lauren DeFilippo

Sneak Peek: Pop-up Dinners from the Guest House

Two hospitality pros are on a mission to reconnect diners with the Colorado land.

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An up-and-coming hospitality and culinary concept called the Guest House is setting out to change the way people eat and understand food in Colorado. Co-owner Seth O’Donovan (formerly of Thomas Keller’s the French Laundry) and chef/co-owner Joe Arena (whose background includes stints at Flagstaff House and Root Down) have launched a series of intimate pop-up wine dinners as a preview to their mountain lodge and restaurant, the Guest House, which will open early next year. The goal? To cultivate conversations about what it means to live and eat sustainably in Colorado.

“In many ways, we’ve lost that sense of what our local cuisine truly is, and how we connect with the land,” O’Donovan says. “Our goal with the Guest House is to create a concept that helps us reclaim our land through food.”

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The wine dinners—like the recent “High-Alpine Low-Country” pop-up at an art-filled residence in Denver’s Baker neighborhood—celebrate the Guest House’s foundational values: sustainable farming and ranching, hospitality, and community. Throughout the evening, dishes such as headcheese with collards, rabbit and heirloom bean cassoulet, and a marshmallow, beet, and gingersnap dessert were paired with biodynamic wines and impeccable service.

Attending the dinner that evening was Justin Williams—general manager of Frasca Food & Wine’s forthcoming venture, Tavernetta. “Seth and Joe are creating something truly remarkable,” he says. “The Guest House is about connecting people with the land and fostering an understanding of something greater than ourselves.”

Indeed, O’Donovan and Arena have great things in store. This summer, they’ll purchase a swath of alpine farmland in the Roaring Fork Valley and establish their lodge and restaurant—akin to Magnus Nilsson’s Fäviken in Sweden—as an off-the-grid retreat where visitors can experience land-to-plate dining, cheese-making workshops, and sustainable cooking tutorials.

While the Guest House isn’t slated to open to the public until sometime next spring, prospective guests can still get a taste at three upcoming wine dinner pop-ups this April and May:

• Volcano Wine Dinner – Monday, April 3, 6:30-9 p.m. at Cook Street, featuring wines produced near active volcanoes. Tickets are $85 per person.

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• Roaring Fork Valley Dinner – Monday, April 24, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at a private home in Snowmass, highlighting ingredients from central and western Colorado farmers. $125 per person

• Colorado Weeds Dinner – Tuesday, May 23, 6:30-9 p.m., celebrating often-overlooked ingredients like nettles, dandelion, and yarrow. Location TBD. $75 per person

To learn more and register for events, visit www.theguesthousecolorado.com.

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