Culinary calendar for the week ahead: Mardi Gras and chili cook-offs

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This week in food kicks off with a Fat Tuesday bang and continues with plenty of food and drink to coax you out of your Lenten sacrifices. Here's a taste of what's ahead:

Monday, March 7:

The City of Aurora hosts a cooking class, Meatless Mondays, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Expo Recreation Center, 10955 East Exposition Avenue in Aurora. It costs $46 to $60; call 303-326-8630 or visit auroragov/org/recreation.

Tuesday, March 8:

Jax Fish House Denver and Boulder present Mardi Gras celebrations; the Boulder outpost, 928 Pearl Street, offers a three-course menu with traditional New Orleans cuisine for $35. Call 303-444-1811 or visit www.jaxfishhouseboulder.com. Jax Denver, 1539 17th Street, presents live music and pan-seared redfish available starting at 5 p.m.; call 303-292-5767 or visit www.jaxfishhousedenver.com.

Celebrate Mardi Gras at the West End Tavern (926 Pearl Street in Boulder, 303-444-3535, www.thewestendtavern.com) or Centro Latin Kitchen & Refreshment Palace (950 Pearl Street in Boulder, 303-442-7771, www.centrolatinkitchen.com), both of which are offering food-and-drink specials.

Blue Star, 1645 South Tejon Street in Colorado Springs, presents a Luxury Wine Dinner at 6:30 p.m. for $290. Call 719-623-1086.

Trattoria Stella, 3201 East Colfax Avenue, hosts the International Women's Empowerment Day Dinner, featuring six guest chefs preparing a seven-course meal inspired by African cuisine; proceeds will benefit the Women's Global Empowerment Fund. It starts at 6:30 p.m. and costs $50; call 303-320-8635 or visit www.trattoriastella.com.

Rock Bottom restaurants present the Fire Chief Ale promotion through April 17: Purchase a pint of Fire Chief Ale, and 25 cents of the proceeds will benefit local fire departments and related charities. Visit www.rockbottom.com.

Wednesday, March 9:

Cook Street School of Fine Cooking, 1937 Market Street, presents Old World v. New World Wines from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.; it costs $49. Call 303-308-9300 or visit www.cookstreet.com.

Rack & Rye Gastropub is the site of this month's Denver Happy Hour networking event, featuring free appetizers, complimentary specials and more. It runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and is free to attend; visit www.rackandrye.com or call 303-620-4920.

Thursday, March 10:

Amendment XXI Wines, 2548 15th Street, presents the Piedmontese Wine Tasting with Blair Taylor of Barolo Grill and Heidi Spurlock-Burnette of Edible Authentic Travel from 5 to 7 p.m. Admission is free; call 303-477-5646.

The Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York Street, presents a Sustainable Kitchen: Learning to Use Local Ingredients & Concepts In Your Lifestyle class, where you can learn about sustainable practices you can incorporate into your own kitchen. It runs from 6 to 8:30 p.m. and costs $49 to $56; pre-registration is required. Call 720-865-3500 or visit www.botanicgardens.org.

Centro Latin Kitchen & Refreshment Palace, 950 Pearl Street in Boulder, presents an Upslope Beer Dinner, with four courses paired with Upslope's brews. It starts at 6:30 p.m. and costs $40; call 303-442-7771 or visit www.centrolatinkitchen.com.

Friday, March 11:

Westword's own Jonathan Shikes will defend his title at the annual Celebrity Chili Cook-Off at the Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm Place, from 6 to 8 p.m.; admission is $15 to $20, and proceeds benefit the Women's Bean Project. Visit www.womensbeanproject.com.

Colorado Free University presents a Wine Tasting for Everyone class from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Lowry Campus, 7653 East First Place. Admission is $41 to $53; call 303-399-0093 or visit www.freeu.com.

Don Emilio's Mexican Restaurant, 14050 East Evans Avenue in Aurora, presents its Grand Opening Celebration with live music, drink specials, door prizes and more. Call 303-597-5151 or visit www.emiliosaurora.com.

Saturday, March 12:

The City of Aurora hosts a cooking class, Core Techniques: Stocks and Sauces, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Expo Recreation Center, 10955 East Exposition Avenue in Aurora. It costs $70 to $280; call 303-326-8630 or visit auroragov/org/recreation.

Learn the art of gluten-free baking at Bauman College Boulder Campus, 1128 Pine Street in Boulder, which will also reveal the secrets behind some house favorites. It runs from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. and costs $75; call 800-987-7530 or visit www.baumancollege.org.

Sunday, March 13:

Scruffy Murphy's, 2030 Larimer Street, hosts the Classic Malts Showdown from 5 to 7 p.m.; admission is $35. Visit www.scruffymurphysdenver.ticketleap.com/classicmaltsshowdown to sign up.

For information on dozens of culinary events around town, visit our online Food & Drink listings -- and if you have information for a culinary event you'd like included in our online calendar, send it to cafe@westword.com.

Looking for more food events around town? Become of a fan of Food Events in Denver on Facebook.

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