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Hey, I was thinking…we are doing a Cochon555 event at Cho77 on Friday, March 4 at 9 p.m. Would you want to come and cook one Asian dish for 40 people? It will be fun!
That’s the text I received from Lon Symensma, chef-owner of ChoLon and Cho77, about 10 days ago. My immediate reaction—I know my way around the home kitchen, but I’ve never cooked professionally—was terror. And so, I said yes.
The premise—a guest chef dinner inspired by the best Chinese, Sichuan, Korean, Thai, and Japanese eateries—is timely given the red-hot popularity of nationally known spots like Momofuku, Pok Pok, and Mission Chinese. Look around Denver and you see the same trend: There’s been an explosion of ramen shops (Uncle, Tengu, Katsu Ramen, Bones, Osaka Ramen, Tycoon Ramen) and buzz around newcomers such as Hop Alley, Sushi Ronin, Sushi-Rama, Ototo, and Aloy Thai.
On closer examination though, there’s more to this speakeasy dinner than just great Asian food: It’s a kickoff event for the annual Cochon555 pork bonanza (which takes place Sunday, March 6, at the Ritz-Carlton) and it’s a fundraiser for Piggy Bank, a nonprofit that gifts heritage pig breeding stock to new family farms.
So, join us—Beast & Bottle’s Paul Reilly, Cho77’s Symensma, Ryan Gorby, and Becca Henry, and me—on March 4 at 9 p.m. as we cook a five-course dinner inspired by southeast Asia. Plan on plenty of booze (punch, Martínez Lacuesta reserve vermouths, and cocktails made with Breckenridge Distillery spirits) and dishes such as duck consommé with duck sausage gyoza from Reilly and a play on the traditional Malaysian oyster omelet from Symensma.
As for me, I’m still madly creating my dish (it will be the fourth course) and hoping I can prove that I’ve got the chops to cook with this crew.
Bonus: There’s another pop-up on Saturday, March 5. This one is a refined five-course dinner at Rebel Restaurant. Chefs Kyle Foster of Colt & Gray, John Little of Harman’s Eat & Drink, and John Wilson of Jezebel’s Southern Bistro & Bar will join forces with Rebel’s Dan Lasiy and Bo Porytko for the night.
9 p.m. reception, 9:30 p.m. dinner, $130 per person, Cho77, 42 S. Broadway, 720-638-8179