Top toques from Wolfgang Puck's Cafe, Maggiano's Little Italy, the Broadmoor and McCormick's Fish House & Bar will put their best food forward today by working wonders with basic grub -- a mystery mixture of food-bank staples -- when they go apron to apron from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Denver Pavilions, 500 16th Street, in the Tillamook Cheese Iron Chef Competition, a benefit for Food Bank of the Rockies. The chefs will be cooking up something lovely (using supplies at hand) in thirty-minute shifts, beginning at 10:30 a.m., noon and 1:30 p.m., with free food sampling allowed in between. Although there's no admission fee, spectators are asked to bring a canned-food donation, and you'll actually do good just by being there: Tillamook will make additional cash contributions to the food bank for every onlooker in the house.
Friday, September 26
The Arvada Art Studio Tour will feature an inside look at ten Arvada studios this weekend, with opportunities to discuss and buy works in a rainbow of mediums by the twelve artists who work in them: Jennifer Moorhead, Jack Moorhead, Jan Myers, Mark Oeser, Peter Richardson, Robin Richardson, Fred Reim, Judy Gardner, Chris Passerella, Bonnie Ferrill Roman, Karen Lynn Link and Cheryl St. John. To launch the event, an artists' reception will be held this evening from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard; tomorrow, on-location open houses and demonstrations take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Free tour maps are available by calling 303-463-9323 or online at www.arvadaarts.org.
The works of more than one hundred artists, both regional and national, will go up for bidding tonight at the second annual Art for Life silent auction benefit for Project Angel Heart, the local nonprofit that provides meals to people living with HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses. This evening, Denver artist Michelle Torrez will paint to live jazz performed by the All Nighters from 5 to 9 p.m. at Abend Gallery, 2260 East Colfax Avenue, while attendees mingle and bid; artworks will be available for preview at the gallery or online, at www.abendgallery.com. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at the door or in advance (call 303-830-0202, ext. 12, or log on to www.projectangelheart.org). For gallery information, call 303-355-0950.
Saturday, September 27
The everyday lives of ordinary people form the basis of Anne Lamott's fiction. On the heels of her best-selling essay collection, Traveling Mercies, she returns to the genre with Blue Shoe, a stellar study with autobiographical undertones of a modern woman beset by the vagaries of divorce and her mother's slow Alzheimer's-driven descent into old age. The ever-popular Lamott brings her novel to life today when she reads at 12:30 p.m. at the Boulder Book Store, 1107 Pearl Street, Boulder; for details, call 303-447-2074.
In a twist on the art-auction theme, CORE New Art Space's annual CORE Collector's Choice Event guarantees something for everyone who participates in the annual gallery fundraiser. Patrons who donate $75 in advance have the opportunity to bid on artwork, gift certificates, sports memorabilia and other silent-auction fodder tonight at a drawing from 6 to 10 p.m. The only catch? You have to wait, lottery-style, until your name comes up before you can choose your item. So who knows? You might end up with something entirely different from what you thought you wanted in the first place. Get a preview of available artworks from noon to 10 p.m. on Friday, September 26, and today from 1 to 5 p.m., or online at www. corenewartspace.com. CORE is at 2045 Larimer Street; call 303-377-3945 or 303-297-8428 for reservations.
Sunday, September 28
Puttin' on the ritz: What better way to celebrate National Ballroom Dance Week (who knew?) than at a USABDA Ballroom Dance Event, sponsored by the Colorado Chapter of the United States Amateur Ballroom Dancers Association and featuring a dance showcase with super duet and USABDA national competition finalists Basil Issaev and Katya Afanaseva. Astaire wannabes, don your top hats and tails and sweep your Ginger Rogers off her high-heeled shoes, beginning at 7 p.m. at the Shrine Auditorium, 4625 West 50th Avenue. The live show follows at 9 p.m.; tickets are $25 to $30 at the door. For information, call 303-366-3053.
Monday, September 29
Go for baroque: Author Neal Stephenson's new novel, Quicksilver, circles the early-eighteenth-century-era globe -- from the court of Louis XIV to the New World colonies -- in a romp that combines wild characters of the gilded age with a cast of historical figures including Ben Franklin, Samuel Pepys and Isaac Newton. Stephenson will introduce Quicksilver -- a followup to his previous book, the best-selling Cryptonomicon, and the first of a projected period trilogy -- tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th Street. Pick up your free ticket beginning at 6:30 p.m. Call 303-436-1070 for details.
Tuesday, September 30
It's a late-'70s concert tour to die for: Aerosmith meets KISS tonight at Fiddler's Green, 6350 South Greenwood Plaza Boulevard, Greenwood Village, for a showdown guaranteed to kick out the jams for every aging boy who was fourteen years old in 1978. But new fans will turn out, too, since Steven Tyler and Joe Perry just keep rocking and rolling into the new millennium. Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley reunite in full regalia, with Peter Criss and Tommy Thayer standing in for Ace Frehley. Awful good. Gates open at 6:30 p.m.; for tickets, $53 to $250, call 303-830-TIXS.