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MOUTHING OFF

End of an era: If, like me, you've never had the pleasure of participating in a Hotluck, well, hots of luck.

Private investigator Scott Keating started the Hotluck ten years ago as a way of bringing together a diverse group of people--around a hundred each party, including such notables as then-mayor Federico Pena--to ingest one of the hottest food items around, namely the chile pepper. On the last Saturday of every February, Keating invited his guests to concoct their own pepper-infused dishes, for a potluck guaranteed to warm up the rest of winter.

"The first year we had fifty green chiles and fifty red chiles," Keating remembers. "And, of course, everyone said, `But I make the best green chile in the world.'" After that, people became more creative, bringing such delicacies as ostrich curry stew and peanut-butter chicken.

Alas, Keating says, his brother Brian recently threw a bucket of water over the Hotluck. Once a beloved part of the Hotluck scene, Brian had a falling-out with Scott, then moved to Seattle--where he began marketing a "Hotluck Party Pack" featuring chile peppers. Since Brian trademarked the name, his brother can no longer use it.

But for Keating, that party already was over. "It's just not the same now, anyway," he says. He's already cooking up a theme for his next big bash. We're not going to reveal details here, though: Big brother might be watching.

Come worship: For a hundred bucks, you can watch French cuisine god Paul Bocuse eat, then grab a signed copy of one of his cookbooks and chow down on a five-course dinner complete with Champagne Mumm and Sterling Vineyards beverages. Proceeds benefit Share Our Strength to help the hungry and the homeless. It all takes place on April 11 at Strings; I shall construct a replica of the Eiffel Tower out of haricots verts (no butter, maybe a little lemon juice) in Bocuse's honor. Call 831-7310.

Miscellaneous: Daddy Bruce is gone, but his memory lives on at Billy Blues Barbecue Restaurant. The new Lakewood barbecue and live blues club has dedicated a corner of the joint to the famous Five Points restaurateur...The rumors have been flying that St. Petersburg has closed; manager Abraham Maranian says, "Someone else just asked me that. But we are very much open"...Cliff Young has been hanging around China Cowboy in a consulting capacity...James Van Dyk, who worked out of Cliff Young's last year after a three-year stint in Japan, will guest-chef at Tango for five days starting April 4...Don't know the name of the place yet, but the sign at First and Madison promises "Coming soon, the freshest seafood in Denver." I'll settle for edible seafood in Denver...Just got the latest cookbook from the Moosewood Collective, the Ithaca, New York, restaurant that's created some of my favorite recipes. This volume, Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, contains more of the same easy-to-follow, no-fail, semivegetarian fare with which Moosewood made its name. The green-bean pesto salad looks great for summer picnics.

 
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