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Foodography: A food porn voyage of Chefs Up Front

Colorado chefs cook their asses off -- not just in their respective restaurants but at culinary events all over the city, and last night was no exception, as thirty chefs from Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs convened at the Colorado Convention Center to cook at Colorado Chefs Up Front, a benefit for Share Our Strength's Cooking Matters Colorado, a local nonprofit that empowers families at risk for hunger to eat well on a budget.

It's one of the best -- if not the best -- culinary gatherings in Denver, and the chefs, all of whom create a swell of dishes that are paired with wines (and, in some cases, sake), also design aprons for a silent auction -- and those aprons are definitely collector items. I've included several of those, along with plenty of food shots and chef-y mugshots from last night's soiree.

For her first course, chef Kelly Liken prepared a baby carrot and parsley root salad with mache and carrot and parsley root puree dressed with a lemon vinaigrette. Sergio Romero, exec chef of Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar, started off dinner with an amuse of mussels in red chili oil. Salumi and cheese from Il Mondo Vecchio. Every chef participating in Chefs Up Front designed an apron for the silent auction: Elway's Cherry Creek went with a Denver Broncos theme. Chefs Jenna Johansen and Kelly Liken. Rioja's lamb saddle stuffed with lamb Merguez sausage and plated with saffron rice and tomato coulis. I bid on the pig apron created by Samir Mohammad, exec chef of the Village Cork -- and lo and behold, it trotted home with me. Paul Reilly, exec chef of Encore, and Wade Kirwan, exec chef of Adrift, hamming it up. Dessert from Walter's Bistro. Reilly wowed his table with pan-seared Colorado lamb loin, baby tomato bread pudding, pickled red onions, soubise and parsley. For its fifth course, the crew from TAG served sliced duck with kumquats, young carrots, Tokyo turnips, celery root puree and pistachio puree. Chefs Tyler Wiard and Aniedra Nichols, both from Elway's Cherry Creek, prepared confit chicken thighs with coins of creamed fingerling potatoes and charred ramps. The crew from Linger at Root Down designed this striking apron. Jeff Osaka and his team from twelve. Tom Coohill, exec chef of Coohills, graced his table with a multi-layered cake -- "Gateau Marjolaine" -- that became famous in culinary circles after the late chef Fernand Point took years to perfect it. Amos Watts, chef of Jax-Denver, prepared a sea scallop and Karobuta pork loin dish with shitake mushroom broth, udon noodles, bamboo, scallions and watercress. Among his several dishes, Ian Clark, the chef of Centro in Boulder, made a chile-laced broth bobbing with lobster meat, mint and cilantro. Big Red F culinary director Jamey Fader, who also cooks at Lola, and Elway's exec chef Tyler Wiard. Fader's rock shimp ceviche with pear tomatoes Serrano chiles, green apples, jalapeno aoili and housemade potato chips. Jenna Johansen's southern pickled shrimp. Pete List, exec chef of Beatrice & Woodsley, prepared an amuse of oysters for his table, which he paired with a 2009 L'Oiselinere Muscadet. Alamosa striped bass sashimi with paddle fish caviar, tomato confit and black garlic ceviche sauce from Jensen Cummings, chef of Row 14. The apron from the team at TAG, TAG Raw Bar and Madison Street.

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