Food News

Rocco DiSpirito Is Coming to Denver for Two Events With Troy Guard

Rocco DiSpirito will be in Denver June 14 and 15.
Rocco DiSpirito will be in Denver June 14 and 15. John Hernick
Rocco DiSpirito rose to fame in the early 2000s as the chef at New York City's Union Pacific and the star of television's first hospitality-focused reality series,The Restaurant. Today, the cookbook author and TV personality is focusing on healthy eating with Made by Rocco, the very small-scale meal delivery service he launched as a way to demonstrate the efficacy of the diet he wrote about in his 2014 book, The Pound a Day Diet.

But in June, he's going back to his decadent restaurant roots — for one night, anyway — thanks to restaurateur Troy Guard, whose TAG Restaurant Group includes Los Chingones and Guard and Grace, among others. Guard first crossed paths with DiSpirito in the late ’90s, when both were working in New York City; they recently reconnected through mutual friends.

"I was loving all the stuff he was doing with plant-based ingredients and healthy foods," Guard says. "We just kind of hooked up and threw the idea around of him coming out to do a plant-based dinner. He said, 'I would love to, but honestly, I'd love to cook a decadent dinner, too.'"

"[Troy] bought me the new Bronco that I wanted, so I said okay," DiSpirito jokes. "We also thought this would be a great opportunity to raise some funds for local charities."

The two events they've planned are very different. On June 14, DiSpirito and Guard will collaborate on a casual rooftop party with plant-based, Mexican-inspired tapas and cocktails at the Los Chingones at 2463 Larimer Street. Tickets are $75, and the proceeds will go to We Don't Waste, which works to reduce hunger and food waste in Denver; Guard has been on the nonprofit's board for several years.
click to enlarge DiSpirito's scallops with uni will be served at Guard and Grace on June 15. - JOHN HERNICK
DiSpirito's scallops with uni will be served at Guard and Grace on June 15.
John Hernick
And on June 15, the two are going all out on a six-course feast at Guard and Grace. "We naturally connected on a lot of the foods that I did when Troy was in New York and visiting Union Pacific," DiSpirito says. "So we're going to be re-creating some of those dishes from that era. That's mostly raw bar. There's a dish called Taylor Bay scallops with uni and mustard oil that we're going to re-create. We were also discussing bubbles and bumps — caviar and champagne." Binchotan charcoal-cooked skewers are also part of the plan.

Tickets for the Guard and Grace event, which are available online now, are $150 for the dinner and $225 for dinner with wine pairing. There's also a third option, with ten seats at $1,000 each. "We're going to use the raw bar as a chef table," Guard says. "You'll get to sit right there and watch Rocco and I prepare some dishes, talk to us, get a signed cookbook from him, and get an early hors d'oeuvre hour with us in the kitchen."

The Guard and Grace event benefits the Boulder Community Foundation's Wildfire Fund for victims of the Marshall fire. "Even though that was months ago, we still want to help them out as part of our community," Guard notes.

Attendees at both events will have the chance to buy DiSpirito's cookbook and have it signed.

The dinners come just before Aspen Food & Wine, which draws many big names in the culinary world to the state, but not always to Denver. Explains Guard: "I just thought it would be a fun, good thing for not only us as a restaurant group, but also bringing him over here and showcasing him in Denver, because we're an awesome city."
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Molly Martin is the Westword Food & Drink editor. She’s been writing about the dining scene in Denver since 2013, and was eating her way around the city long before that. She enjoys long walks to the nearest burrito joint and nights spent sipping cocktails on Colfax.
Contact: Molly Martin