Food News

Good Food for a Good Cause: Three Upcoming Culinary Fundraisers

Great Chefs of the West will offer culinary creations from more than two dozen restaurants.
Great Chefs of the West will offer culinary creations from more than two dozen restaurants. Great Chefs of the West
The coming weeks offer a trio of fundraisers that you might want to snag tickets for before they're gone. There's a celebration of North African and Middle Eastern cuisine in Boulder to benefit the ACLU; a chili cook-off to raise money for the Morgan Adams Foundation (which funds childhood-cancer research); and a chef-filled gala to help fund the National Kidney Foundation. Save your pennies so you can enjoy great food while supporting your favorite nonprofit organizations.

click to enlarge Chef Dakota Soifer welcomes guests to Cafe Aion for a culinary tour of Trump's seven banned countries. - ALY NICKLAS
Chef Dakota Soifer welcomes guests to Cafe Aion for a culinary tour of Trump's seven banned countries.
Aly Nicklas
Flavors Without Borders at Cafe Aion
Sunday, February 19
1235 Pennsylvania Avenue, Boulder

We're not the only ones highlighting the cuisine of Sudan, Somalia, Iran, Syria and the other countries on Donald Trump's travel-ban list. Dakota Soifer, chef/owner of Cafe Aion, and chef Kyle Mendenhall of Arcana are putting together an evening of dishes inspired by ingredients and recipes from those countries, which also include Iraq, Yemen and Libya. Soifer says the ban "struck a chord because we thought of Middle Eastern and African food and thought this could really affect food in America."

The chef adds that sharing food brings people together and increases our understanding of other cultures. "There are wonderful things to celebrate," he notes.

Those wonderful things will be served beginning at 6 p.m. on February 19. The cost is $120 per person, and tickets can be purchased on Cafe Aion's website; proceeds will be donated to the ACLU. "We do not believe in fear and isolation," Soifer adds in the invitation to the dinner. "We relish celebrating our diversity and invite you to join us at our table for a night of solidarity."

Here's the complete menu:
Reception: Iran, Syria, Somalia, Libya
Sharbat cocktails – pomegranate, rosewater and tamarind
Mehshi Malfouf – stuffed cabbage rolls with rice and raisins
Sambusa – sweet spiced savory pastries with beef
Bureek – savory pastry with chard and feta

First Course: Somalia, Sudan, Syria
Carrot ginger and tumeric salad
Lentil and walnut salad with onions and parsley
Preserved tuna with tomato & olives

Second Course: Iran
Ash – soup with yogurt, chickpeas & herbs

Third Course: Syria and Yemen
Braised lamb with dried apricots and figs
Couscous and braised vegetables

Dessert: Iraq
Mint tea and sesame, pistachio, chickpea cookies

Bring the Heat, Bring the Hope: Zach's Chili Challenge
Saturday, March 4
McNichols Building
144 West Colfax Avenue
Heat up the first weekend of March with a judged chili challenge showcasing the talents of some of Denver's best kitchens; there will be plenty of Colorado craft beers and spirits available to help quench the fire. The event, named in honor of Colorado Springs chef Michelle Giancamilli's nephew, who has battled medulloblastoma since 2008, benefits the Morgan Adams Foundation and pediatric-cancer research. General admission tickets, which can be purchased through AXS, run $50 and allow entry to the event at 6 p.m. For $100, you can buy a VIP pass, which includes 5 p.m. admission. See the Zach's Chili Challenge website for a complete list of participating restaurants, breweries and distilleries.

click to enlarge A dish from the 2016 Great Chefs of the West gala. - ARTPHOTIQUE
A dish from the 2016 Great Chefs of the West gala.
Great Chefs of the West
Thursday, March 16
Denver Marriott City Center
1701 California Street
March is National Kidney Month, which makes it an ideal time to help out those dealing with kidney disease. Great Chefs of the West presents its 34th annual fundraiser, with food and drink from more than two dozen metro Denver restaurants and beverage sponsors. This year's Chef Chairs are Uncle executive sous-chef Liz Farrall and Bar Dough executive sous-chef Blake Edmunds. Farrell donated a kidney to her mom in 2014 and says, "Polycystic kidney disease runs in my family, but I was lucky, and the PKD gene was not passed on to me, therefore giving me the opportunity to be a living kidney donor."

Tickets for Great Chefs of the West run $200 per person, but group discounts and sponsorships are also available. Tickets can be purchased on the event's website; note that group discounts are only available until February 24.
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