Hush Denver set to expand beyond Denver

Chase Wilbanks, executive chef at La Tour in Vail, came down from the mountains to cook up six courses (and display an awesome crab tattoo that you can see here) at the third Hush Denver dinner on April 24. Up to this point, Hush -- the not-so-secret dining club -- has been hosting monthly dinners (read Tyler Nemkov's account of the March event with guest chef Ian Kleinman here), but founders Phil Armstrong and Chance Humphrey are about to increase both the number of "eat outside the box" events and expand their scope.

That expansion will be reflected in the organization's upcoming name change -- from Hush Denver to Hush Events. A May 15 dinner on the roof of the Denver Art Museum Residences has already sold out; the first Hush dinner will be in Boulder on June 20 at Colorado's Best Beef, a ranch up against the Flatirons, and there are also plans to tie in with Aspen Food & Wine.

But the top priority, Armstrong assured diners at Saturday's dinner, was to highlight the work of some of this state's best chefs, including the five-course meal Wilbanks then rolled out:

First course: Island Creek oysters with ponzu, diakon Oroshi and scallion

Second: EVOO poached Alaskan halibut, fava bean, morel mushroom and ramp succotash, candied bacon, smoke tomato vinaigrette

Third: Torchon of foie gras, rhubarb compote, toasted brioche

Fourth: Oven roasted Colorado rack of lamb, spring pea puree, goat cheese gougere, smoked red wine sauce, pickled ramp salad

Fifth: Spice apple tarte tatin, toasted black pepper and soy gelato, Guinness caramel.

Cheering on Wilbanks was La Tour owner/chef Paul Ferzaccas, who purchased the renowned restaurant back in 1998. He'd closed La Tour at the end of the ski season for three days, but it's now reopened with a new, organic spring menu that allows you to sample three courses for $39 (for details, call 970-476-4403).

But if you drive up this weekend, you won't find Ferzaccas at La Tour; he'll be competing again in the National ProStart Invitational finals, sponsored by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

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