The James Beard Foundation may not have shown much love to Denver chefs and restaurants when none of the five Colorado nominees for James Beard Awards moved on to the list of semi-finalists last month (meaning that Colorado is out of the running entirely on the May 4 awards night), but when it comes to actual cooking, the James Beard House seems to have a thing for Denver chefs. The foundation just announced that Paul C. Reilly, chef and co-owner of Beast + Bottle, will be presenting a "Denver Farm Feast" dinner on June 8 at the historic home in Manhattan.
"We were asked last autumn and we chose June because it's a good time of year to represent spring and some great early Colorado produce," says Reilly. The menu will basically be "what if Beast + Bottle were open in New York City for one night," according to the chef. A list of seven passed hors d'oeuvre will come from Reilly's amuse bouche repertoire, using farm-fresh ingredients from both Colorado and New York; Reilly mentions a dish of mortadella with octopus, baby artichokes, olives and Meyer lemon as something his team is particularly excited about. "It's an early spring expression meets our version of surf and turf," he notes.
This will be Reilly's fourth trip to the James Beard House, but his first as the headliner. He says it's a thrill and an honor because of the history and the setup of the space. "Everybody has to walk through the kitchen to get to the dining room, so you meet everyone you're serving," he explains. Passed appetizers are served in the garden before guests — up to eighty each night — move upstairs for dinner in the famed cookbook author's original sitting room.
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Reilly will be taking chef de cuisine Alexander Mathieu and pastry chef Andrea Wight with him, and he's also invited former Beast + Bottle alum Jesse Moore (who moved to Maine after his time in the kitchen with Reilly) to help with the dinner.
The gig comes as good news for even those Denver diners who won't make it to New York City that week. "We're going to preview some of the dishes on the menu starting as soon as two weeks from now," says Reilly. Here's the menu he'll be preparing for the dinner; you can start looking for the new dishes at Beast + Bottle soon.