Denver Beer Fest week is upon us, as an early welcome to the Great American Beer Festival, and people seem to be happy enough subsisting on stale pretzel necklaces and drunken, late-night taqueria runs (not that there's anything wrong with that!). Peruse our extensive list of beer events this week if you want to float away on a river of suds. But if you want to do something that's not entirely beer-centric, take a look at these six great food and drink events that are only sometimes beery — and then plan ahead for upcoming events.
Monday, September 17
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 starts at 9 a.m. with a keynote presentation by Amanda Cohen titled "Gender and the Restaurant Industry," while Marcus Samuelsson will offer a discussion of his new memoir, Yes, Chef, on September 18. In between, there will be a series of breakout sessions, Q&As and panel discussions (including one on the media with Mark Antonation at 9 a.m. September 18), covering such timely topics as staffing, business growth, social media in the restaurant business, sustainability, and sexual harassment in the workplace. Access to the expo floor at the Colorado Convention Center is free; a full pass to see the keynote speakers and all of the other conference sessions is only $25. Get yours at the Colorado Restaurant Association site.
One of Denver's few (very few) chefs specializing in Filipino food, Leah Eveleigh, is at it again with with one of her bountiful feasts. On Monday, September 17, The Seasoned Chef Cooking School, 999 Jasmine Street, will be the scene of an extravagant spread: savory and sweet lumpia; chicken and pork-belly adobo; cassava cake brûlée; pancit bihon (a rice-noodle dish with soy and fish sauces); shrimp and mussels in coconut sauce; and, of course, the show-stopping lechon are all on the menu. The fun starts at 5:30 p.m. and will cost you just $65; nab your ticket at bossdefrost.com.
Tuesday, September 18
Everyone thinks they can improve on the classics — witness Tim Burton's 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and wewantplates.com. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. If you think you have what it takes to update the classic taco (fresh tortilla, slow-cooked or grilled meat, onions, cilantro, salsa), get in touch with Troy Guard and the Los Chingones team for their Taco to Us contest, which is running through Sunday, September 23. Submit a recipe for your tricked-out tacos here and see if you can hang with the likes of Roy Choi and Rick Bayless. Finalists will be announced by September 28, and on October 4, the creations will be on sale at all Los Chingones locations, with the winner being the month's wild-card taco. Get cooking!
Wednesday, September 19
Mercantile Dining & Provision, 1701 Wynkoop Street, never stints on quality, and that's doubly true when it puts on its annual Mercantile Invitational dinner during the Great American Beer Festival. This year, eight chefs will pull out the all the stops to pair food with beer from Beachwood Brewing Company (Long Beach, CA) and the legendary Russian River Brewing Co. (Sonoma, CA). On Wednesday, September 19, the reception begins at 6:30 p.m. — and you'll want to arrive on time, as this reception doesn't just consist of a welcome cocktail and some crackers. Three bites will be paired with beers during the reception, and dinner will be five courses. Tickets are $150 but will be worth every penny; call the restaurant at 720-460-3733 to book your seat.
Thursday, September 20
We never thought we'd see the day: Great American Beer Festival tickets are still available. Sure, your choice of sessions is limited (you'll have to call in sick Friday morning), but mere mortals, not just craft-beer royalty or Ticketmaster bots, can currently get their hands on tickets for Thursday, September 20. Whether you opt for beer alone ($85) or beer and food pairings ($160, and you'll save yourself from greasy Convention Center vendors), the debauchery starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th Street, and goes until you're wandering around in a stupor, eyes glazed, stomach sloshing, happy, sated and wondering if you'll ever be able to fit another brew down your gullet for the remainder of your life (aka 10 p.m.). Get tickets while you still can at GABF's website.
Friday, September 21
The fall food festival season continues with Vail's Fall Food and Wine Classic, kicking off with pop-up wine dinners throughout town on Friday, September 21, and offering berry picking, bike rides and a giant bash on Saturday, September 22. The Grand Tasting, $85, boasts 25 chefs, sommeliers and restaurateurs from the Vail Valley, while twenty wineries from south of the equator will be in attendance (the Classic's theme is wines from the Southern Hemisphere). Get tickets at Taste of Vail's website.
Keep reading for upcoming food and drink events.
Sunday, September 22
MCA Denver has a habit of hosting excellent food and drink events — and its Sown Together Beer Tasting on Saturday, September 22, will be no exception. The museum, at 1485 Delgany Street, is tapping into the zeitgeist yet again by bringing in breweries whose stated goal is to use local ingredients, suppliers and producers. From noon to 4 p.m., Colorado outfits Goldspot, Horse & Dragon, Our Mutual Friend and TRVE will be joined on the rooftop patio by Indiana's Upland Brewing Co., Illinois's Scratch Brewing Co. and Texas's transcendent Jester King Brewery, which puts out the Lone Star State's second-best export (the first being barbecued brisket, of course). Get your tickets, $35, at eventbrite.com before the event sells out.
Sunday, September 30
It's never too early to start planning for Feast, Westword's annual celebration of Denver's restaurant scene. This year's party returns to the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue, on Sunday, September 30. There will be unlimited bites from over forty local eateries, live entertainment, unlimited drink samples and unlimited merriment from noon to 3 p.m., especially if you opt for VIP tickets, which get you in an hour early and include an open VIP bar. Tickets start at $30 and are on sale now at westwordfeast.com.
Wednesday, October 3
If you've got money to burn and Wednesday, October 3, free, here's the perfect plan — provided you don't dilly-dally about getting your tickets. The perpetually lauded Kizaki brothers, Yasu and Toshi, are offering a five-course progressive dinner that evening that will begin at Sushi Den before hitting Ototo and Izakaya Den, all on the 1400 block of South Pearl Street. Only twenty seats are available for the evening (two seatings of ten are scheduled for 6 and 7:45 p.m.), so snag your tickets now — and we mean now — at Sushi Den's website. Tickets are sold in pairs only ($300 per pair) so rustle up a date, co-worker, parent, friend...hell, advertise for a plus-one on Craigslist if you need to. We promise this event will be worth it.
If you know of a date that should be on this calendar, send information to firstname.lastname@example.org
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