Earlier this year, Leigh Sullivan Enterprises -- a hospitality-industry marketing, brand-management and public-relations consulting firm helmed by Leigh Sullivan -- announced its fifth crop of chefs to fill out the ranks of the Denver FIVE, an organization that's "a culinary group whose main goal is to celebrate and promote the Colorado culinary scene," says Brian Melton, a mixologist who also pours out the prose for Sullivan.
It's a good list. The chefs are Tyler Wiard of Elway's Cherry Creek; Blackbelly Catering owner Hosea Rosenberg; Samir Mohammad from the Village Cork; Jenna Johansen, fresh off of filming Around the World in 80 Plates, a Bravo reality series; and Crave Dessert Bar & Lounge pastry chef Jessica Scott. The beverage team includes sommelier Jonathan Greschler, who's currently at Fuel Cafe, and James Lee, who, in addition to running the cocktail program Blackbelly Catering, is back behind the bar at Boulder's Bitter Bar.
And like other FIVE line-ups, this year's group will tackle some big gigs: FIVE represents the state at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic and will cook at the James Beard House in the fall.
But first, the crew will kick off the season with tonight's shindig at Balistreri Vineyards, a party at which Rosenberg will be leading the charge. "We put the onus on the five chefs," Melton explains. "They all get one turn to host." That explains this event's location, since Rosenberg doesn't have a restaurant.
"It's a big cocktail party," says Melton. "Every chef will do three heavy passed apps, and Jessica Scott will do three different desserts. We'll have Balistreri wines, and James Lee will be making cocktails."
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The kick-off event launches a series of monthly (or so) dinners; the next one will be a patio party -- "Tyler calls it a partio," jokes Melton -- hosted by Wiard at Elway's on May 14.
Tickets -- which are $40 each -- are still available for tonight, by the way: if you'd like to attend, Melton says you can either e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve seats or just show up and pay at the door. The festivities start at 6:30 p.m.