Photos: Sizzling scenes from the Hot Rocks Griller Challenge at Elway's Cherry Creek

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All photos by Lori Midson.

On Wednesday night, seventeen chefs from across Denver convened on the patio of Elway's Cherry Creek for the Hot Rocks Griller Challenge, an annual benefit -- and one of the best food-related events of the year -- for the Denver Health Foundation's male-based programs. The chefs, all of whom created different variations of sliders, paired their dishes with a salad or side, and the public, along with the participating chefs, voted on which slider sizzled to the top. Tyler Wiard and Aniedra Nichols, the dynamic kitchen team behind Elway's, were awarded first place in the people's race for their barbacoa torta paved with onion-radish slaw, grilled Oaxaca cheese and smear of avocado. Second place went to Adam Branz, the chef of Bistro Vendome, who served an elegant slider mounted with pork belly, apricot compote and Camembert on sour dough, while third place was awarded to Continental Deli's Felice Price, who wowed the slider-starved crowd with her jackalope sausage slider topped with apricot mustard and grilled red cabbage spiked with citrus. The chef vote for best slider went to Branz.

Flip the page to eat up the highlights, and make sure to check out our full slide show of the night's most memorable moments.

See also: Chocolate, wine, crawfish and golf on this weekend's culinary calendar


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Photos: Masters of the Brewniverse was rowdy fun

Categories: Last Night, Photos

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Scott Lentz
The Wynkoop Brewing Company presented its inaugural Masters of the Brewniverse Beer Festival and Brewery Pageant on Thursday night at the Oriental Theater. Guests got to sample lots of beer from more than fourteen breweries while watching reps and brewers from each brewery compete on stage for the crowning title of "Master of the Brewniverse."

Teams showcased the personality of their brand through various rounds of beer pageantry, and were graded on fashion, talent and interview. Westword photographer Scott Lentz was there; see all of his photos in our Masters of the Brewniverse slide show.

See also: Beer calendar: craft brew, chocolate and the occult -- what could be better?

Crazy scenes from last night's Denver Espolon Cocktail Fights competition

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According to Williams & Graham barman Sean Kenyon, who was also the emcee at last night's Espolón Tequila Cocktail Fights, Bryan Dayton, bar manager at Acorn, is "pretty." Very, very pretty. And, as Kenyon pointed out multiple times, Dayton was on the cover of GQ magazine. Kenyon was full of quips, complements, advice (drink more tequila!) and well-meaning insults at the Iron Chef-style showdown, which took place at the Beauty Bar and pitted eight local bartenders -- Allison Widdecombe (Williams & Graham); Jason Patz (Williams & Graham); Conor McDermott (Salt); Amanda Olig (Osteria Marco); Les Baker (Session Kitchen); Haylee Ortiz (Session Kitchen); Todd Mayville (Asti D'Italia) and Melissa Durant (Acorn) -- against one another in an old-fashioned cock...er...cocktail, fight.

The bartenders were thrown all sorts of curves, including having to create cocktails on the fly using another bartender's grab bag of ingredients (ghost chile salt or mango hot sauce, anyone?) and concocting a cocktail with Crooked Stave's Vieille Artisanal Saison, a beer with pronounced sour notes. Durant was ultimately crowned victorious by a then-drunk team of judges, including yours truly, Dayton and Jeremy Kittelson, chef of Root Down. As far as cocktail competitions go, this was one of the best battles of the year: refreshingly unpretentious, energetic and just a shit-ton of fun. Oh, and Durant's prize? A thick, black, silver-studded belt sporting an obnoxiously large buckle etched with her new title: The Official Denver Cocktail Fights Champion. Herewith, a shortened version of the highlights.

See also: First look: Richard Sandoval's La Biblioteca opens Saturday


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Photo highlights from the Chef & Brew Festival

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Nearly 500 beer geeks and foodniks packed the EXDO Event Center last night for Chef & Brew, an annual bash that celebrates Colorado's craft beer scene. Seventeen local chefs, paired with the same number of brewers, battled against one another for prizes and bragging rights, the awards of which were chosen by a team of judges as well as the public. Judges gave the best beer-and-food pairing prize to Strange Brewing and CY Steak, while the judge's award for best beer went to Renegade Brewing, which poured an Imperial Stout. Best overall dish went to Darren Pusateri, exec chef of Gallo di Nero. Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar, whose kitchen is commanded by John Broening, won the people's choice nod, as did TRVE Brewing. Here's an abbreviated photo recap of the festivities; For more pictures, check out our slideshow.

See also: Factotum Brewhouse won't open in Sunnyside after all; searching for a new spot


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Highlights from last night's Pairsine Chefs Fine Food and Wine Pairing Competition

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Last night, at the Omni Interlocken resort, ten local chefs, along with former White House toque John Moeller, competed in the Pairsine culinary showdown, an annual battle that's part of the Denver International Wine Festival, a five-day wine-and-food-intensive soiree that spotlights Colorado chefs and more than 350 wines from around the globe. Thursday night's competition, which required the chefs to create two separate dishes paired with the same number of wines, resulted in a win for Lucky Pie Pizza & Tap Room chef Joe Troupe, whose lamb cassoulet and brandade croquettes earned him "Best Chef" from the judges. Trinity Mack the founder of Town and Country Foods, was awarded the title of "Most Creative Chef" by the judges, while Jean-Luc Voegelle, exec chef of the downtown Westin, waltzed away with the People's Choice award. Tickets are still available for the remaining Denver International Wine Festival events, including tonight's grand tasting, tomorrow's winery and distillery tours and Sunday's Julia Child Tribute Champagne luncheon. In the meantime, here are the highlights from last night's battle.

See also: Denver International Wine Festival uncorks today


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Photos: The food, the brews and the drunken debauchery from last night's Great American Beer Festival

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All photos by Lori Midson.

At 10 p.m., when the drunken revelers began stumbling out of the Colorado Convention Center, a woman grabbed her crotch and started twerking. Her partner in crime lunged as consumers, most of whom were already weaving, futilely attempted to stay out of his path. And so went night two of the Great American Beer Festival, where extreme IPAs, inflated courage and ramped up testosterone collide. If there was any sort of reprieve from the crowds (and theatrics) in the roaring halls, it was in the farm-to-table pavilion, where local chefs, including Frank Bonanno, Alex Seidel, Kelly Liken, Lon Symensma and Kelly Whitaker, paired up with some killer brewers, giving foodniks and craft-beer nerds an opportunity to sample small bites and suds sans long lines. I was there to capture the highlights, which are plastered on the following pages.

See also: Great American Beer Festival: The coolest labels and taps


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Taste of the Nation raises $20,000 to fight childhood hunger -- and honors Tyler Wiard

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Lori Midson
Tyler Wiard, exec chef of Elway's Cherry Creek, won the Noel Cunningham award at last night's Taste of the Nation benefit.

Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation, a national nonprofit that raises funds to fight hunger on local, national and international levels, celebrated its 26th year with a fundraiser last night at McNichols Civic Center Building, raising nearly $20,000 to benefit Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign, a statewide, public-private initiative of Hunger Free Colorado.

See also: Chef Matt Selby wins first Noel Cunningham award for his commitment to end child hunger in Colorado


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Patio of the Day: My Brother's Bar

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Not to be confused with the raucous (and world's different) downtown Brother's Bar and Grill, this Highland watering hole was dubbed My Brother's Bar after two brothers bought it in 1970. But that wasn't the beginning for his spot. Drinks first started pouring here in 1873 when the bar was called Highland House before moving through several evolutions -- making the address the longest running bar in Denver.

And My Brother's Bar is just as trusty as ever to patrons (who have included such characters as On The Road's Neal Cassady) over the last hundred years.

See also: Patio of the day: Vine Street Pub & Brewery

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Patio of the Day: Vine Street Pub & Brewery

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Like its Boulder counterparts -- Southern Sun, Mountain Sun, and Under The Sun -- Vine Street is a Denver staple and beer Elysium. And its appeal isn't dominated by the season: step in in the fall or winter, and you'll find a cozy place to linger; stop by in the spring or summer and you can enjoy the greenery of upper 17th Avenue from their spacious patio.

See also: Patio of the day: The Thin Man

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Patio of the Day: The Thin Man

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For years, The Thin Man has attracted an eclectic crowd of patrons to a space that's just as eclectic. Inside, you'll find red mood lighting and walls crowded with Jesus figurines, crosses and saint portraits; outside, you'll find both a welcoming front patio and, in back, a glorified parking-lot-turned-relaxation-haven.

See also:
- Patio of the Day: Cantina
- Patio of the Day: Illegal Pete's
- Patio of the day: Black Crow


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