UPDATE: The winner is announced here.
Paul Reilly may no longer have his own restaurant -- after a last hurrah Sunday brunch, he shuttered Encore last month when he and the landlord couldn't agree on lease terms -- but he has the support of plenty of Denver chefs, many of whom will gather on Sunday for Eat Drink Give, an annual benefit that Reilly spearheads.
And it's personal -- very personal. In 2009, Shannon, Reilly's wife, gave birth to three triplets, none of whom survived, but all of them -- Aiden, Charles and Liam -- spent several month in the neo-natal ICU at Saint Joseph hospital before they passed away, and Sunday's Eat Drink Give event will honor those boys, as well as the staff at Saint Joseph who did all they could to save them. "Shannon and I had triplet boys who were all taken care of at this specific unit until they passed away from complications from being born prematurely, and I do this event as to way as to honor my boys and as a way to honor the amazing staff at Saint Joseph that took care of them," says Reilly.
At the Sunday fundraiser, which kicks off a 6 p.m. at Yia Yia's, whose kitchen is commanded by Aaron Whitcomb, fellow chefs Jamey Fader (Lola); Daniel Asher (Root Down and Linger); Wade Kirwan (Adrift); Sheila Lucero and Amos Watts (Jax Fish House); Samir Mohammad (The Village Cork); Jeff Osaka (twelve); Tyler Wiard (Elway's Cherry Creek); and Alex Seidel (Fruition) will all be in attendance, turning out small plates complemented by cocktails from Dean Copeland (Encore); Eric Dutton (Vesta Dipping Grill); and Randy and Ryan Laymon, the mixology brothers at Steuben's.
"I wanted to brigs together an eclectic mix of chefs and bartenders -- guys I consider to be some of the best in town, chefs who had never worked together before and chefs who are really good friends of mine," say Reilly, noting, too, that Whitcomb was the first chef he met when he moved to Denver. "My first stage in Denver was at Adega, where Aaron was working, and since Encore is closed, he came through when times were tough, and thanks to him and his team, the event will go on."
Tickets are $55 per person, inclusive, and there will be some noteworthy door prizes to boot, including gift certificates from all of the participating chefs, a private barrel tasting at the infinite Monkey Theorem and a behind-the-scenes tour of the Denver Zoo. You get one raffle ticket with admission, and additional raffle tickets are only $2 each.
And while we think everyone should purchase a ticket to this, Reilly is feeling generous, and that means that we're giving one Cafe Society reader (and a guest) the chance to hobnob, eat and drink for free.
Here's how you can emerge victorious: In the comment section below, tell us how many orders of jalapeno poppers Encore served during its final brunch service. The person who comes the closest without going over will win.
We'll run the contest through Friday and announce the winner by 5 p.m. In the meantime, you can purchase tickets at edgtheremix.eventbrite.com/; they'll also be available at the door.
Oh, and if you want an update on what the future holds for Reilly and his sister, Aileen, who also owned Encore, Reilly says that he's spending the summer staging in New York, while Aileen is working in Provence and Piemonte. But that's not all: "We've been checking out lots of spaces to open a new restaurant, and you should have something new from us this winter," predicts Reilly.