While many chefs turn in for the “night” around 5 a.m., Urban Farmer’s Chris Starkus isn’t one of them. By that time of day, he and his wife, Diana, have more than likely already been out on the quarter-acre farm adjacent to their Lakewood home—called Lost Creek Micro Farm after the waterway that once ran through the area—to harvest the likes of borage, peas, edible flowers, fresh greens, and even eggs from their 23 heritage-breed chickens.

Chris not only grows food for his family, community, and Urban Farmer guests, but he’s also working to earn his Master Beekeeping Certification (a three-year endeavor) by tending Urban Farmer’s rooftop hives and the four wild swarms he caught at Lost Creek this year. The bounty from all of these efforts will be on the table tonight at Chris’ “Colorado on a Plate”  dinner at the James Beard House in New York City.

Chris has been planning, and growing, for his Beard House menu since this past winter, when he and Diana began buying seeds and scoping out what they could harvest at Lost Creek in time for the August event. With over 40 fruits, vegetables, and herbs ready to pick right now, Chris has everything from Row 7 Seed Habanada peppers and Badger Flame golden beets to oyster leaf (a fantastically unique green that tastes like, you guessed it, oysters) and albino Itachi cucumbers on the menu.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s joyous,” Chris says. That enthusiasm and sense of purpose trickles down from Diana and Chris to their two children, Harper and Hazel. Both help with farm chores, man Lost Creek’s farm stand, and, last week, Harper even earned ribbons at the Jefferson County Fair when he showed three chickens through the county’s 4-H youth development program.

Tonight, Chris will translate his time cooking under James Beard Award-winning chefs Wolfgang Puck and Alessandro Stratta in Las Vegas and his daily commitment to Colorado-grown produce at the prestigious James Beard House in Greenwich Village for over 60 guests. He’ll serve a five-course meal (menu below) featuring the bounty of Lost Creek Micro Farm, Parker’s Bootheel 7 Ranch, Haystack Mountain Cheese, Laws Whiskey House, Noosa Yoghurt, Palisade-grown peaches, and more.

You can watch the action at the Beard House through it’s live-streaming Kitchen Cam; tune in at 7 p.m. ET when the festivities begin.

Want to taste the magic for yourself? Reserve seats for Chris’ repeat Colorado-love dinner at Urban Farmer on September 5, when he’ll cook it all again, where it all began.

Bonus: Colorado will be on the James Beard House menu again next month, when Steamboat Springs’ Bésame hosts a dinner there on September 26. Click here for tickets or watch the dinner live.

Chris Starkus’ “Colorado on a Plate” James Beard House menu

Passed hors d’ouvres
Kasu-cured Colorado trout
Atomic cherry tomato, uni
Itachi cucumber tartare

Cocktail Pairings
Rose-infused Casamigos Blanco, watermelon, lime, pink peppercorn syrup
Ketel One Vodka, aloe, honey, lime, dill, black pepper
A.D. Laws Rye, bergamot turbinado, bitters, lemon oil

First Course
Root vegetable and fermented watermelon radish carpaccio
Beverage Pairing: Dolin Blanc, Palisade peaches, lime, elderflower tonic

Second Course
Compressed melon, heirloom tomato, pink celery, goat feta, and hempseed salad
Beverage Pairing: Tanqueray 10, Amaro Nonino, grapefruit, lime, honey, verjus, Peychaud’s bitters

Third Course
Peppercorn-crusted crispy octopus, cucumber yogurt, ghost chile harissa
Beverage Pairing: Sohm & Kracher “Lion” Grüner Veltliner, Weinviertel, Austria 2017

Fourth Course
Bootheel 7 Ranch beef duo: ninety day dry-aged New York strip & steak tartare
Beverage Pairing: Angela Estate “Urban Farmer Private Reserve” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon 2015

Brûleé honey cake, Haystack camembert, tasting of honeycomb, beeswax ice cream
Beverage Pairing: Ketel One Vodka, Noosa yogurt, vanilla, lime, passion fruit

Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen is 5280’s former food editor. She oversaw all of 5280’s food-related coverage from October 2016 to March 2021.