Wow, just...wow. Work Options for Women, a local nonprofit that trains impoverished women (and men) for jobs in the food-service industry, is a favorite cause for many local chefs, and last night's "Mentors: A Night Out With Work Options for Women" quickly became a favorite fundraiser format for any diner lucky enough to snag a seat.
Chef Jennifer Jasinski — of Rioja, Bistro Vendôme, Euclid Hall and Stoic & Genuine — had mentored Dana Rodriguez when Jasinski headed the kitchen at Panzano, and she brought Rodriguez with her when she and partner Beth Gruitch opened Rioja in Larimer Square over a decade ago. Rodriguez ultimately moved up to chef at Bistro Vendôme before she left the group just over two years ago to become a partner at the in-the-works Work & Class.
That popular RiNo restaurant was the site of last night's competition, with Work & Class owner Delores Tronco and crew serving a few snacks and then keeping the cocktails flowing as each chef and her sous prepared four courses.
As the plates were presented — featuring crab, mushrooms, pork (Jasinski offered a sneaky posole) and chocolate — guests held up paddles indicating which chef they thought was responsible for each dish. No one really kept score; it was already clear that everyone at Work & Class that night was a winner.
You've got another chance to sample the talents of these chefs at Women Cook! on May 2. That's the big fundraiser for WOW that features female chefs from around town. Jasinski and Rodriguez have already signed on for the event — although they might have a date that takes precedence, since both are semifinalists in the James Beard Awards that will be announced that same night: Rodriguez for Best Chef Southwest and Jaskinski for Best Chef.
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But there will definitely be other accomplished woman working that night, including Kathleen Kenny Davia of Gateaux; Sandra Adams of the Hyatt; Nadine Donavan of Secret Sauce (Vesta, Steuben’s and Ace); Sheila Lucero of Jax Fish House; Elise Wiggins, who replaced Jasinski at Panzano; Cindhura Reddy, chef-owner of Spuntino; Jenna Johansen and Nicole Olst of Epicurean; Summer Polson and Rasha Husseini-Trujillo of Project Angelheart; Aniedra Nichols of Elway’s Cherry Creek; Samm Sherman of Craftsy; and Mary Nguyen of Olive & Finch. Women Cook runs 5 to 9 p.m. Monday, May 2, at Temple Emanuel, and tickets always go fast. Fine out more at WOW's Women Cook page.