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Jing chef Jay Spickelmier wins the Mile High Chef Competition by a lamb's nose

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The voting was close, really close. But after the judges -- Jason Sheehan, Tyler Nemkov, Nancy Levine, Ben Davison from Tony's Market and yours truly -- taste-tested eight courses, all of which involved Colorado lamb, and then tabulated the results, Jay Spickelmier, the exec chef at Jing, edged out Argyll Gastropub exec chef Sergio Romero in last night's Mile High Chef Competition at Dish-the Westword Menu Affair.

The spirited competition, which was emceed by D Bar Desserts owner and sugar king Keegan Gerhard, included your typical Iron Chef-like theatrics and mishaps (the pan of rice crashing to the floor was especially notable), frenetic time constraints and acerbic judges (who, us?) who complained about everything from the minuscule lamb roulade with duxelle that we simply wanted more of, to the ambitious, albeit disastrous, lamb schintzel that Sheehan claimed tasted like "burnt oil and eggs."

But in the end, there were far more hits than misses. The standouts: Spickelmier's Tuscan lamb and white bean soup pelted with bacon and crowned with a fried mint leaf, and his delicious sweet lamb tartare. It was the winning combination of those two dishes that cemented the victory for the Jing chef, who managed to create four dishes -- one more than necessary -- as did his competitor, in exactly 60 minutes.  

Aside from bragging rights for an entire year, Spickelmier also walked away with the coveted marshmallow man trophy, which we know he'll guard like the royal crown jewels until next year's competition.

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