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In his lifetime, cookbook author James Beard taught and mentored a whole generation of professional chefs in the art of American cuisine. After his death, his foundation carries on that mission in his stead, administering educational food initiatives, industry awards, and scholarships to aid up-and-coming chefs throughout the country. While Colorado lacks a base for the nonprofit, Denverites will get the chance to support its programs this Saturday, June 2.
The Colorado Culinary Challenge—a Friend of James Beard Benefit—will bring together five of the Mile High City’s culinary masters in a four-course feast at the new Le Méridien hotel downtown. For Denver foodies, it means a chance to test fare from the Mile High City’s top chefs. For the chefs, it means a chance to show their stuff. “Whenever we do these events try to put our best foot forward and showcase high quality food and our techniques,” says Max Mackissock, of Bar Dough and others.
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Each of the chefs will tackle a different course: Tobias Burkhalter (Corinne) will take on appetizers; Justin Brunson (Old Major), will dish up the first entrée while Mackissock and Blake Edmonds (Señor Bear) will plate up the second; and Nikki Baldacci (Coohills) will finish it off with dessert. Each course will come paired with a cocktail or other libation expertly chosen by each restaurant’s bar program. With dishes such as Mackissock and Edmonds’ Chicken Ballottine (the bird is seasoned with cilantro soffrito then rolled, poached, and fried) with grilled little gem lettuce on the side (dressed with garlicky green goddess and “coated with a bunch of crunchy things”), the chefs will attempt to win patrons’ stomachs—and their votes. The winning dish and top booze pairing will be honored with bragging rights—which at a James Beard event, is a big deal, indeed.
The money raised will go back to the foundation’s programs to groom a new generation of their peers—maybe even a few of Denver’s next top chefs.
If you go: Colorado Culinary Challenge, Saturday June 2, 6-9 p.m.; The Grove Ballroom at the Le Meridién Denver Downtown, 1475 California St., 303-898-1888. Tickets are $124 per person and can be purchased here.