Chef Marcus Samuelsson talks change in the Denver restaurant scene at Johnson & Wales University.EXPAND
Chef Marcus Samuelsson talks change in the Denver restaurant scene at Johnson & Wales University.
Westword

Marcus Samuelsson, Amanda Cohen Headline Colorado Restaurant Show

What's celebrity chef and author Marcus Samuelsson doing in Denver — besides rocking a spectacular pair of multi-hued jeans? On Tuesday, September 11, the restaurateur moderated a "Talk Shop Live!" panel at Johnson & Wales University, where he queried Frank Bonanno, Alex Seidel, Brother Luck and Westword's Patricia Calhoun about the changes in the restaurant business over the past forty years. And next week, Samuelsson will join chef Amanda Cohen, founder of Dirt Candy, New York City's groundbreaking vegetable-based restaurant, as keynote speakers at the Colorado Restaurant Show.

Samuelsson has been a regular visitor to Colorado over the years, cooking at Frasca for guest-chef dinners, attending Aspen Food & Wine and touring for his cookbook launches. "I'm good friends with Bobby [Stuckey] at Frasca, and I have a lot of other friends who work here in the restaurant community," he notes.

Considering how quickly Denver's restaurant scene is changing, Samuelsson says it's good to hear from chefs and industry professionals who have been around to witness the evolution. "When you're 25 and you just moved here, even two years looks like a long time," he explains.

Change and growth will be hot topics at the Colorado Restaurant Show, which the Colorado Restaurant Association puts on every year to bring together chefs and restaurant owners and managers to network, learn and discover. Restaurant suppliers show up to tout the latest products and trends, while guest speakers provide context for the rapidly growing industry. The event takes place on September 17 and 18 at the Colorado Convention Center downtown.

Cohen will offer the opening keynote presentation, titled "Gender and the Restaurant Industry," at 9 a.m. on Monday, September 17 (Calhoun will moderate a discussion with her afterward), while Samuelsson will close at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, September 18, with a discussion and book signing of his new memoir, Yes, Chef. In between, there will be a series of breakout sessions, Q&As and panel discussions, covering such timely topics as staffing, business growth, social media in the restaurant business, sustainability, and sexual harassment in the workplace.

Registration is still open on the Colorado Restaurant Show website. Access to the expo floor is free, and a full pass to see the keynote speakers and all of the other conference sessions is only $25.

I'll be there, too, joining a panel discussion titled "Help Them Help You: Working With Restaurant Media," at 9 a.m. Tuesday, September 18, along with 5280 magazine food editor Denise Mickelson and food and travel writer Rebecca Treon. Come by and hit us with some important food-media questions, like "How do you eat so many sandwiches in a week?" or "Why do you write about green chile so much?" 

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