William and Stephanie Wahl left their restaurant, Indulge, to cook at the Escoffier dinner.

No scoffing at Denver's Escoffier dinner

For those who don't know Escoffier from etouffe, last night's Auguste in November event offered a delicious course -- eight courses, actually -- on the essentials of French cooking.

The duck fois gras, presented by William Wahl of Indulge French Bistro (which Jason Sheehan raved about here), was the best she's had in this country, one French diner told the assembled crowd, and no one was going to argue. They were too busy diving into the Dover sole paupiette, with diver scallop mousse and Maine lobster, made by chef David Scott of Vail Resorts; the free range chicken consomme with wild mushroom ravioli created by Jean-Luc Voegele of the Westin-Tabor Center; and the Black Angus tenderloin prepared by chefs Jason De Backer and Bertrand Gesbert of Le Central (another Sheehan favorite, as evidenced here).

But the unexpected crowd favorite may have been the the rose petal champagne sorbet, conjured up by Pete Arendsen, the wizard behind Ice Cream Alchemy in Boulder, which came in a cube of ice midway through the epic meal, clearing the palate for more delights to come.

Michel Escoffier, great-grandson of the famous French chef, presided over the meal, which was presented by the Colorado chapter of the American Institute of Wine and Food. That's one of the three largest chapters in this country, and last night it presented thousand-dollar scholarship checks to the Culinary Academy at Western Colorado Community College and the University of Denver's School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management, both of whose students helped with the dinner. Find out more about the institute's program here.

And while you may have missed the dinner, you can still sample some of this town's best French fare at Indulge, one of its newest restaurants, and at Le Central, still going strong after almost thirty years. -- Patricia Calhoun

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