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This Means War!

Mais oui: If you're as grumpy as I am about the whole frog-bashing thing, take heart. Le Central (112 East Eighth Avenue) was recently tagged by the U.S. Attorney General's Office as a place of cultural sharing where Americans and French natives can get together, interact and foster all those warm and fuzzy vibes that come with the combination of good wine, great food and open minds. On the first and third Thursday of every month, starting at 6:30 p.m., Robert Tournier and his Frenchified folks at Le Central will host an informal, lively, communal table that's meant to inspire interaction between the two cultures. Food and wine will be provided by the restaurant; conversation in English and French will be at the discretion of the guests. The cost is $30 a head (not counting tax or tip), and attendance is limited to thirty people per meeting.

Leftovers: The book of the dead grows longer this week, with a few favorite spaces now taking their places in restaurant Valhalla. The Shead's Fish and BBQ Heaven location at 15320 East Hampden Avenue in Aurora has gone dark; new signage points to some sort of coffee shop going into the space. My favorite Korean joint, DiDi Deli (1560 Kipling Street in Lakewood), is no more. Owners Duk Young and Mi Rae Park finally decided to throw in the towel, and something called Jumbo Thai Express has already opened in its spot. The Denver Deli next door to Oliver's Meat Market at 1312 East Sixth Avenue is closed while in the throes of a major overhaul; no word yet on a reopening date. But the address once occupied by Pico de Gallo (571 West Sixth Avenue) is back in business as Chub's, serving yet more Mexican. Ikano Bowl (790 East Colfax Avenue) is now Zhong Express, and what had been a tumbledown grill tucked into a weird corner at 2797 South Parker Road is now a thoroughly refurbished L.D. Chinese Buffet.

There's also been a change on the floor at Carmine's on Penn (92 South Pennsylvania), the restaurant where Larry Herz, the owner of Indigo (see review, page 67), first earned his chops. The entire management staff is gone, including front-of-the-house man Chris Linker, and general manager Jay Joralemon has taken on the task of revitalizing the onetime Denver hot stop. "We had some problems in the past," Joralemon says, "and I wanted to get back onto the floor to make sure everything was being done the right way."

Location Info

Map

Tante Louise

4900 E. Colfax Ave.
Denver, CO 80220

Category: Restaurant > French

Region: East Denver

Le Central

112 E. 8th Ave.
Denver, CO 80203

Category: Restaurant > French

Region: Central Denver

Finally, we here at Bite Me World HQ would like to give a big shout-out to Elsa Padillo, Billy Ettawil, Julio Hermosillo and Garrett Dotsch -- the culinary team from Battle Mountain High School in Minturn that took second place in the National Restaurant Association 2003 National ProStart Student Invitational. Each of these young kitchen rookies took home two grand in scholarship money after beating out 22 other teams from as many states in a sixty-minute cookoff; their only stumble came when one of the crew (allegedly) decided to celebrate the win by lighting up a joint out back after the awards ceremony. Now, I'd never want to be accused of condoning drug use by a minor (trust me, I've already been accused of plenty of other stuff), but personally, I think this act showed remarkable restraint. Most cooks I came up with would've sparked up that fatty the minute the clock started ticking, wasted half their time giggling stupidly or having a deep, meaningful conversation with a shallot, then remembered that they were working under the gun and spent the last thirty minutes carefully arranging six dozen Twinkies into the shape of a giant Misfits skull garnished with a purple crème fraîche mohawk. Then again, that's also probably why my guys and I never won any cooking competitions.

And the fact that these kids drew a 7 a.m. start time (which means they had to be working at 5 a.m., putting together their mise and setting up their gear) makes their win particularly notable. Trying to do a niçoise salad out of the French Laundry cookbook at 3 p.m. for dinner service at 5 is one thing -- and tough enough -- but doing it at 7 in the morning, with judges watching and the clock ticking away and three other courses still to be prepared, is something else entirely.

So, stoned or no, the Battle Mountain team deserves major props. Keep an eye on those names, folks. A few years from now, they're probably going to be cooking your dinner.

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