Denver has no lack of female food-and-beverage talent, a fact that will be celebrated at Old Major on Wednesday, April 25, with a special dinner prepared by some of the city's top female chefs, bartenders and pastry chefs.
"I have been doing a lot of guest chef dinners over the last few years, and I was thinking about how no one has celebrated female chefs in Denver," says restaurateur Justin Brunson, owner of Old Major and Masterpiece Deli in LoHi. "So I called them up, asked if they wanted to cook, and they said it would be fun."
The lineup includes notable names in the industry: Caroline Glover, chef/owner of Annette, who received nominations in this year's James Beard Awards; pastry chef Nadine Donovan, who designs desserts for Ace Eat Serve, Steuben's and Vesta; chef Aniedra Nichols, currently of Tammen's Fish Market; mixologist Heather Haas of RiNo Yacht Club; and bartender Victoria Errio of Bar Helix, as well as four women on the food and beverage staff at Old Major.
"For the female chefs in Denver, a lot of us don't know each other, so it's a good way to network...with other women," says Sarah Khosravani, sous-chef at Old Major. She adds that it's also a good way to show that being a chef is a job title, not a gender. "You will notice that a lot of awards in our profession specify female, like best chef versus best female chef, and it's important for people to know you don't have to specify a gender — it's just a profession."
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All profits from this seven-course dinner will go to Woman Chefs & Restaurateurs, a nonprofit organization that serves as a resource for women looking for culinary education and career advancement.
The cause is important to many of the participants, including chef Dana Rodriguez of Work & Class, who is busy opening her new restaurant, Super Mega Bien, the following week. Still, she says, "I couldn't say no after reading about the support for girls to go to culinary school." With her time tight that week, she notes that she "selfishly" asked to do the salad course, a not-so-simple-sounding dish of roasted beets, zucchini flowers stuffed with vanilla-bean-infused goat cheese, and a Mexican leafy green similar to watercress.
Other participants in the dinner are MaKayla Defebio (Old Major), Kodi Simkins (previously of Frasca Food & Wine), Mary Sullivan (Old Major) and Angela Neri (SF Hospitality Group).
The $55 dinner, with a $25 optional wine pairing, runs from 5 to 9 p.m. Guests can expect items including spring-pea gazpacho, sous-vide beef tongue with a Persian bent, and some surprises along the way. And if you miss this extravaganza of talent, don't worry: Brunson plans on hosting a female-driven dinner each year that will hopefully include women from around the country. Make reservations on Old Major's website or by calling 720-420-0622.