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The Six Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Weekend

Check out Chihuahuas and chili at MaxFund's Chili Cook-Off this Saturday.EXPAND
Check out Chihuahuas and chili at MaxFund's Chili Cook-Off this Saturday.
Kenneth Hamblin III
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This weekend is bookended by two deep dives into Colorado history and culture: the legendary Frozen Dead Guy Days and George Bent and the Old West. The former pays tribute to our quirky (some would say drug-addled) mountain-town culture, the latter to our frontier spirit. In between, drink some beer and pet some dogs (also Colorado classics). Here are the six of the best events over the next few days, as well as upcoming dates for your culinary calendar.

Coffin races are just the start at Nederland's Frozen Dead Guy Days.
Coffin races are just the start at Nederland's Frozen Dead Guy Days.
Danielle Lirette

Friday, March 9
For almost a quarter-century, Bredo Morstoel has resided — in Abraham's bosom and surrounded by dry ice — in a shed in Nederland. The full story of Grandpa Bredo would take more space than this post has to offer, but suffice it to say that the town of Nederland's tourist economy is almost solely based on this monument to man's...optimism? This year's Frozen Dead Guy Days kicks off on Friday, March 9, at 4 p.m. and runs through 4 p.m. Sunday, March 11. We'll pimp the pancake breakfast, Bacon, Bourbon and Brews tent, and Rocky Mountain oyster-eating contest here, though the downright bizarre festival also boasts a frozen T-shirt contest, Frozen Dead Poets Society and the famed coffin races, among many others. Entry starts at $20, with additional fees for some events; visit frozendeadguydays.org for a complete schedule and information.

Anyone who's endured a really good meal on a really bad date knows context is important. The Denver Philharmonic Orchestra is upping the ante on ambience by combining good food, drinks and music in its DPO With a Twist series: On Friday, March 9, and Saturday, March 10, it's presenting Havana to Harlem, chamber-music performances by the Harlem Quartet that will be heavy on the Latin jazz and accompanied by Cuban bites and beverages. The doors of Ellie Caulkins Opera House, 1385 Curtis Street, open at 6:30 p.m. so you can get your fill of empanadas with coconut crème fraîche, mojo steak sandwiches with Creole sauce and date jam, rice pudding spiked with rum, plus mojitos, Cuba Libres and more before the performance starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $25 and are still available at the Denver Philharmonic website.

Love coffee and beer? Check out the unfortunately named Cool Beans Beer and Coffee Festival on March 10.EXPAND
Love coffee and beer? Check out the unfortunately named Cool Beans Beer and Coffee Festival on March 10.
Courtesy of Ratio Beerworks

Saturday, March 10
Set your alarm: The fun starts early at Ratio Beerworks on Saturday, March 10. You may think 10 a.m. is too early to start drinking beer (or, like us, you may not), but it's totally justifiable if it's coffee beer. Enter Ratio's Cool Beans Beer and Coffee Festival. For $30, you'll get to choose from coffee beers that go way beyond stouts and porters — think coffee IPAs and American ales. Bloody beers courtesy of The Real Dill will also be on the menu, as well as straight-up joe from local roasters for your caffeinating needs. And, as with any good mid-morning drinking experience, food has to be involved; in this case, newly minted Southern restaurant Julep, doughnut maven Glazed & Confuzed and Bacon Social House will keep your strength up with bites and breakfast delights. The fest runs until 1 p.m. at Ratio's taproom, 2920 Larimer Street; find out details and nab your tickets at the brewery's Facebook page.

There's another chili cook-off on the calendar this week, but this time, you have the chance to be named the town's chili champion — or at the very least, to pet some cute dogs. Yes, that's right: The 24th Annual MaxFund Chili Cook-Off is back on Saturday, March 10. Jackson's LoDo, 1520 20th Street, will host the family-friendly event from 1 to 4 p.m.; $10 will get you plenty of chili to taste, while for $30 you can enter your own creation in one of four categories (red, green, white and veggie). Chow down on chili while meeting adoptable pets that want nothing more than for you to take them home. If you're not up for getting a dog, get some cheap drinks instead, then stick around and vote for your favorite creation. Get your tickets in advance at maxfund.org, because prices go up on Saturday.

Our favorite Broadway bar, Englewood Grand, is celebrating its second year in business on Saturday, March 10, and six little words are all you need to know about why you should show up for the party: spiked cotton candy and Cochino Taco. Get your fortified pink puffs and shredded pork starting at 4 p.m. at 3435 South Broadway, and get ready for a sticky, messy night — the best kind.

Get a slice of history — and a great piece of meat — at The Fort.EXPAND
Get a slice of history — and a great piece of meat — at The Fort.
Courtesy of The Fort Restaurant Facebook page

Sunday, March 11
The Fort Restaurant is known primarily for preserving a piece of Denver's culinary history, but the restaurant's founder, Sam Arnold, also established the Tesoro Cultural Center, a nonprofit dedicated to educating Coloradans about the collision of Spanish, Mexican, Native American and European cultures in our state in the early nineteenth century. On Sunday, March 11, Tesoro's Dinner Lecture Series focuses on George Bent — a mixed-race Cheyenne, Confederate soldier, survivor of the Sand Creek Massacre and interpreter for the U.S. government. Tickets, $68, include the lecture and dinner (buffalo filet, sides and dessert) at the restaurant, 19192 Highway 8 in Morrison. Don't let the drive (or your preconceived notions about the Fort) scare you away; the lecture is sure to be entertaining, the view is spectacular, and the buffalo will be perfectly prepared. Find out more about the evening at Tesoro's website.

Keep reading for tasty events worth planning ahead for...

Thursday, March 15
Great Chefs of the West is back on Thursday, March 15, for another year of dazzling your tastebuds and raising money for the National Kidney Foundation. This is the 35th year of the event, and the roster of participating restaurants is perhaps the best yet: The Populist, Ototo, Sushi Den, Rioja, Mercantile Dining & Provision, Izakaya Den, Hop Alley, Fish N Beer, Beast + Bottle  and Hop Alley, among others, will compete at the Exdo Event Center, 1399 35th Street, to see who can create the best dish. Add to that an open bar with signature cocktails and a live auction, and the night can't get any more fab. Get your ticket for the fest, $200, at the National Kidney Foundation's website.

You can exchange a meal at SAME Cafe for time, homegrown produce or money.EXPAND
You can exchange a meal at SAME Cafe for time, homegrown produce or money.
Mark Antonation

Thursday, March 22
If you've eaten at the SAME Cafe, you know it's not the same old story. Because of the restaurant's mission to provide people of all income levels with healthy food, the menu doesn't include prices; customers pay what they can or swap volunteer hours in exchange for a meal. But there are other, subtler touches that aren't immediately apparent. For instance, there are always two pizza, soup and meal choices on the menu — one vegetarian — so that customers are able to make a real choice about what they want to eat. That's an organization dedicated to treating people with real dignity, and you can support the eatery at the So All May Eat Gala on Thursday, March 22. From 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Space Gallery, 400 Santa Fe Drive, will host the fundraiser, where you'll enjoy small plates and beverages from Que Bueno Suerte, City O' City, The Corner Beet, Renegade Brewing Co., Woody Creek Distillers and more. Tickets are a bargain at $60; find out more on SAME Cafe's Facebook page and snag your tickets at eventbrite.com.

Culinary Quick Start is a free four-week training program for potential service-industry employees. Offered at the Emily Griffith Technical College and funded primarily through a State of Colorado Workforce (WORK Act) Grant, Culinary Quick Start still needs additional funding to keep the program running. On Thursday, March 22, participating Denver restaurants will donate 10 percent of their sales as part of Culinary Quick Start Giveback Day. Restaurants that wish to participate can sign up on the CQS website, and a list of participating eateries will also soon be available for diners who want to donate a portion of their breakfast, lunch or dinner bill that day.

The Dude's favorite beer at Collaboration Fest 2017.EXPAND
The Dude's favorite beer at Collaboration Fest 2017.
Danielle Lirette

Saturday, March 31
Imagine that old stalwart The Dating Game was still on the air. Imagine you went on it and didn't end up on a date with a serial killer; instead, you went out with a nice boy or girl and had to brew a beer together the first time you met. In a nutshell, that's the premise of Collaboration Fest. The beer festival has spent the past five years teaming up breweries and seeing what maniacal brews come from the partnership. This year, the fun is moving to bigger digs at the Hyatt Regency Denver, 650 15th Street, where on Saturday, March 31, you'll be able to imbibe creations from nearly 100 teams of brewers. Our most anticipated collabs? Local favorites Our Mutual Friend and TRVE Brewing Co., and Renegade Brewing Co. and French brewery Brasserie du Baril. The event runs from 4 to 7 p.m., though VIP ticket holders get in at 3 p.m. Get your ticket before the fest sells out at the Collaboration Fest website.

If you know of a date that should be on this calendar, send information to cafe@westword.com.

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