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Then last week, I heard that Leigh Sullivan-Guard has organized a separate Beard House dinner, "Denver's Five," which she sees as a "branded event" that will continue every year. The five for 2008: Troy Guard (Leigh's husband, currently between kitchens), Tyler Wiard from Elway's, Goose Sorensen from Solera, Matt Selby of Vesta and Steuben's, and pastry chef and Food Network hosting machine Keegan Gerhard — who ain't exactly local, but apparently counts now because he's in the process of opening his dessert bar, D Bar Desserts, at 1475 East 17th Avenue.
Leigh first discussed the idea during Troy's Beard House dinner last February. "I was sitting with the program director," she says, "and I asked her why isn't Denver more, you know..."
More what, exactly?
"Why we don't get more respect, more notice. And she basically told me, 'You feel this way, why don't you do something about it?'"
So Leigh did. She found her chefs (all save Gerhard) hanging out at Vesta's tenth-anniversary party, and though she's still trying to find local sponsors for the May 14 dinner (which would save her five a whole ton of green), the menu has been formalized, with each chef doing a course.
So at two, big, blow-out dinners in Manhattan just two months apart, the cream of the foodie elite will get to experience eleven of Denver's best chefs. And while there are certainly important names that aren't on either list, I don't consider that a problem so much as a compliment to this city. It just means Denver is deep with talent — and that the next time Denver has dueling Beard dinners, we'll have a strong pool to choose from.
Leftovers: Another notorious black hole — the Victorian bungalow at 2637 East 26th Avenue that decades ago was the original home of La Loma — has claimed another victim: Shooting Star Cafe. But there's good news at the LoDo Common Grounds (1601 17th Street), which has just added wine and beer to its offerings. Drink up!
Finally, some housekeeping: The Best of Denver 2008 hits the streets on March 27, so for the next few weeks, I'll be eating and writing pretty much non-stop. How does this affect you, the dining public? It means that if you've got suggestions for the best burger, the greatest gelato, the coolest bathrooms or the hottest bartender, either speak now (via e-mail, preferably) or forever hold your peace.
You can also send an e-mail if you'd like to subscribe to Cafe Bites, the Westword dining newsletter that offers a Tuesday-night sneak preview of some of the news in the next Bite Me, as well as information on upcoming foodie events around town. And for still more dining news, I post a couple of items a week on From the Gut, my food blog. Right now, you can read a very long-winded account inspired by my visit to Tibet's Restaurant and a recent e-mail from my friend Sean. For all — and I mean all — the details, go to blogs.westword.com/thelatestword.
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