Cafe Society

Start spreading the news: The Denver FIVE bring their Mile High culinary magic to the James Beard House in New York

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"To cook at the James Beard House, one of the most recognized institutions in the culinary realm, is more than an opportunity -- it's a big fucking deal," agrees Rosenberg. "I did my best to honor the tradition and history of this remarkable organization, and I did my best to honor the great state of Colorado and all of the fine chefs, restaurateurs and industry professionals who call it home. We have so much to be proud of, and I'm proud to be a part of it."

This year's dinner, which I was lucky enough to attend (yes, I know I have a great job) and featured Wiard and his colleagues, as well as the talents of Brian Melton, Jonathan Greschler and Steven Waters, was a magnificent Colorado ingredient-inspired feast paired with wines, beers and cocktails for the elitist food cognoscenti. And there were plenty of obstacles that could have thwarted the verve of our chefs, including the fact that FedEx destroyed half of the product that Rosenberg had shipped from Denver.

But none of that mattered. "I loved that we were acting more as a team by helping each other out with prep, tasting and plating," says Scott. "We knew that this dinner was about being a team rather than an individual effort. We were representing Colorado, and we knew we had to bring it."

For his part, Mohammad says he'd cook in that kitchen again in a New York minute. "I'd go back as many times as they would let me return," he professes. "I feel like you're part of a secret society after you've cooked there. The whole experience was life changing for me, and it made me realize how much I still have to learn, and why I want to continue to strive to be a better chef and mentor. It made me realize why I really love this career."

Mohammad, along with Johansen and Scott, had never cooked at the Beard House before, and the venture, agrees Johansen, lived up to the hype. "The entire experience exceeded my expectations," she says. "I'd been dreaming about cooking at the James Beard House for years, and I drank in the history and the passion. It was everything I thought it would be and then some."

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson