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It’s slow-cooker season. A time of year for cozying up with bowls of overnight oats, savory pot roasts, and hearty stews. But Hugh Acheson—celebrity chef, culinary director of Punch Bowl Social, and author of The Chef and the Slow Cooker—wanted more from his slow cooker. “When I sat down to begin brainstorming ideas for the book,” Acheson says, “I realized that there’s a ton of stuff you can do with [a slow cooker]. People need to realize that the ubiquitous pot roast is not where it stops.” That’s certainly not where Acheson stopped, as the book is full of modern recipes (Mexican-style sipping chocolate! Braised shortribs! Strawberry-rhubarb jam!) that you actually can make at home. They’re not all set-it-and-forget-it recipes—you might need to brown a few items first, or finish with a sauce—but they represent a chef-driven, creative approach to slow cooking.
To further his message, Acheson has teamed up with Airstream, Whole Foods Market, All-Clad, and Cholula Hot Sauce and embarked upon a 25-city slow-cooker tour. He’ll be rolling through Denver on Thursday, December 14, parking his camper at the Punch Bowl Social on Broadway from noon until 2 p.m. There, Acheson will answer your burning slow cooker questions (What if my slow cooker has been sitting in a box in my garage since 1986? What if I don’t like pot roast? What do you make in your slow cooker, Chef?), sell and sign copies of his cookbook, and most importantly, make you tacos.
Every night of the tour before bedding down in the Travel Trailer, Acheson sets up several slow cookers’-worth of beer-braised pork shoulder so it can slowly simmer away while he sleeps. In the morning, he and his team make a fresh tomatillo salsa to go with the juicy pork, and then assemble the pork tacos for the hungry masses garnished with fresh cilantro, onion, and lime on white corn tortillas. All proceeds from the taco sales go to a worthy cause: Seed Life Skills.
Acheson founded Seed Life Skills (SLS) in 2014 to bring family consumer sciences and home economics curriculums back into middle schools. “We update our phones 10 times a year,” Acheson says, “but there’s a whole curriculum that we haven’t really done the same type of triage on to figure out what are the contemporary skill sets that everyone should have.” SLS offers free downloadable curriculums and more to middle schools across the U.S., teaching students home finance skills, nutrition, culinary science, and of course, actual cooking. “It teaches kids skills that will hopefully get them to the bottom line of ‘I got this. I can do this,’” Acheson says.
So now you have three great reasons to visit Acheson at Punch Bowl Social on Thursday: Slow cooker wisdom, tacos, and helping our children grow into capable, confident adults who cook. Oh, and add one more thing to the list—if you go, you can enter to win a random drawing for an All-Clad Slow Cooker, signed cookbook, and Cholula.
Punchbowl Social, 65 Broadway, noon to 2 p.m.