Ten Colorado-Themed Challenges for Top Chef Season 15 Cheftestants

Wagyu tartare at Acorn.
Wagyu tartare at Acorn. Linnea Covington
Colorado is finally getting a little national attention for the great culinary scene that's been building here in recent years. Cable network Bravo just announced that it will soon begin filming season fifteen of its popular culinary reality show Top Chef in Denver, Boulder and Telluride. Details about what tricky challenges the cheftestants will face have not yet been revealed, so we thought we'd lend a hand with some suggestions. Here are ten challenges we think should be part of Top Chef season fifteen in Colorado.
1. Green Chile Challenge
For this challenge, the chefs will head down to Pueblo to tour chile farms and sample some fiery, Colorado-style green chile before returning to the competition kitchen with bushels of pepper pods that they must roast, peel, seed and use in creative cooking. Bonus points for any chef who can also replicate the day-glo glop made famous by Chubby's.
2. High-Altitude Challenge on Top of a Fourteener
This challenge begins with a hike to the top of one of Colorado's famous peaks, laden with all the gear and grub needed to prepare a gourmet dinner, complete with bread, at more than 14,000 feet above sea level. Since the boiling point of water at this elevation is only 186 degrees Fahrenheit, even boiling potatoes will prove difficult. And the gusty winds can make salting food a futile mission — not to mention the challenge of keeping curious wildlife at bay.

3. Cooking With Beer
With some 300 craft breweries making beer in the Centennial State, there's almost more beer than water available for cooking. But cooking with beer means far more than just simmering sausages in stout. For this challenge, contestants would take a page from Denver chef Jensen Cummings' Brewed Food philosophy and use beer-making ingredients — hops, barley, brewers' yeast and beer-friendly spices — to come up with dishes that pair well with suds.

4. Cooking and Pairing Food With Cannabis
Okay, so this one probably won't happen, but we'd love to see a guest spot from chef Scott Durrah, formerly the co-owner of Jezebel's Southern Bistro, who now helps run the Simply Pure dispensary and its culinary offshoot, Simply Cooking. Or Top Chef could bring back season 5 winner and Blackbelly chef/owner Hosea Rosenberg, who educates Denver and Boulder diners about pairing weed and food at occasional cannabis-themed pop-up dinners. The cheftestants could get a crash course in the cannabis basics before sampling for flavor profiles and then heading for the kitchen. The hardest part would be making sure finished dishes make it to the judging table before they get eaten.

click to enlarge Wagyu tartare at Acorn. - LINNEA COVINGTON
Wagyu tartare at Acorn.
Linnea Covington
5. Cooking on a Restaurant Farm
Several Denver and Boulder restaurants run their own farms where they grow vegetables and raise livestock that end up on their menus. The competitors could take a trip to Alex Seidel's Fruition Farm, Eric Skokan's Black Cat Farm, or the Squeaky Bean's ACRE, run by partner Josh Olsen at Warren Tech High School. After harvesting their own veggies, the cheftestants would prepare a farm dinner for a large group. Milking a sheep or a goat would earn respect and points.

Keep reading for more challenges.

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