What should you be watching this summer? Why the Great Denver Grill Off, of course! The locally produced show kicks off this Saturday, July 5 at 4 p.m. on CBS 4 Denver and runs through August 23. The premise: A collection of top-notch Denver chefs—Matt Selby from Central Bistro & Bar, Ryan Leinonen of Trillium, Dana Rodriguez from Work & Class, Michelle Agnew of Table 6, Brett Shaheen from Wooden Table, and Troy Guard of TAG, Guard & Grace, and other restaurants—team up with home cooks to see who can win the grill-off smack down. The show is hosted by the effusive BJ of the BJ & Jamie Morning Show on Alice 105.9.

Over a series of weeks, each duo fine-tuned a pork-centric dish they felt would win the competition. But the Grill Off turned out to be more than just the best chef–best amateur–best recipe match-up: The show’s legacy is the number of lasting bonds that formed. “The sincere, really cool friendships that developed between the team members—that was something I never thought of happening,” producer Joel Spicola says. The chefs and contestants spent time together cooking, of course, but they also met each other’s families and navigated the difficulties of reality TV together. Although shooting ended June 1, Guard and wife Nikki continue to keep in touch with contestant Aniella Swider. Likewise with the Agnew-Kurt Basford team. “One of my favorite things was getting to know Kurt,” Agnew says. “We’re buddies.”

Watch the show—and the camaraderie—unfold each week. I judged the final episode at Lodo’s Bar & Grill (yes, that’s me chowing down on the Grill Off’s Facebook page) so I know who took home the grand-prize Big Green Egg. You? Well, you’ll have to tune in to see for yourself.

Busy? Each episode will be re-aired the following Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.

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Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.