Six kick-ass Denver chefs, a stellar mixologist and one meaty sausage slinger: Foodography from the James Beard House dinner in New York
When six Denver chefs, one bartender and, for good measure, a muscled and tatted sausage emperor all trotted out of the kitchen, following a sensational multi-course, Colorado-inspired dinner prepared in a Manhattan brownstone, a woman seated at the table just adjacent to the burners stood up, applauded and declared that she'd never seen a posse of chefs having such a good time. That was the vibe on Wednesday night, when The Five, Leigh Sullivan's clan of chefs and culinary kings, congregated in the small, smoky kitchen of one of the country's most celebrated venues for culinary artistry: the James Beard House.
Lori Midson Top from left to right: Tyler Wiard, Matt Selby, Bryan Dayton and Paul Reilly. Bottom from left to right: Mark DeNittis, Brandon Biederman, Jamey Fader and Enrique Socarras
The fearless mob squad -- Matt Selby (Vesta Dipping Grill and Steuben's); Brandon Biederman (Steuben's), Paul Reilly (Encore), Jamey Fader (Big Red F Group and Lola), Enrique Socarras (Cuba Cuba), Tyler Wiard (Elway's Cherry Creek), Bryan Dayton, co-owner of Oak at Fourteenth in Boulder, and Mark DeNittis, who oversees Il Mondo Vecchio -- fed 75 of the country's fussiest food writers, food snobs and foodniks. And while it's a grueling (not to mention intimidating) whirlwind of prepping, schmoozing, cooking and clean-up, our homeboys came and conquered, turning out a stunning repertoire of dishes that, enthused one New Yorker (and Beard House regular), were among the best she'd ever thrust down her gullet.
Wiard, who's cooked at the Beard House seven times (including earlier this month, when he and the crew from Elway's and Elway's Downtown prepared a seven-course dinner that was was also inspired by Colorado ingredients), raised his fist in jubilation as he addressed guests, several of them Denverites who flew to New York to support their hometown chefs. "Denver has definitely made its mark on the national culinary map," said Wiard, adding that he and his fellow chefs comprise a "community that you don't often see in other cities." Denver chefs, insisted Wiard, are "brothers who cook together, support each other and have a great time together."
I was lucky enough to experience that -- and a whole lot more -- on Wednesday night, when I jetted to New York to cover the dinner. Herewith, a photo gallery of the dishes and highlights.