Colorado Takes Spotlight in this Season's "Top Chef"

Colorado is preparing to take center stage as a top culinary destination in the upcoming Season 15 of Bravo’s “Top Chef" airing tonight. Throughout Season 15, the Emmy and James Beard award-winning series will feature Colorado settings, ingredients and food personalities, as cheftestants from across the nation battle it out in a variety of picturesque Colorado locations for the coveted title of “Top Chef.” Two of the cheftestants are from Colorado -- Denver-based Carrie Baird, executive chef of Bar Dough, and Colorado Springs’ Brother Luck, owner of Four by Brother Luck in Colorado Springs. The Season Premier airs tonight, Dec. 7 (check your local listings), on Bravo.

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The first episode will kick off with a food festival on Larimer Square, we're guessing it's Slow Food Nations that we covered back in July. Denver show highlights will include Chef Alex Seidel’s Fruition Farms and Mercantile dining & provision and Sage Restaurant Group’s Chef Gregory Gourdet (“Top Chef” Season 12 Finalist) and his Departure Restaurant + Lounge. Denver stops will also include Rhein Haus, Elitch Gardens, Mile High Station, the Colorado State Capitol building and tailgating with the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium. The competitors also head to Estes Park for a Quickfire Challenge at The Stanley Hotel, Boulder, Telluride, and concludes with a two-part finale at the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen with challenges at T Lazy 7 Ranch and the top of Aspen Mountain.

The Top Chef judges on Larimer Square

The Top Chef judges on Larimer Square

Get ready for even more people to flock to our beautifully diverse state after watching this "Top Chef" season, as many will be watching because it is the top food show on cable! Soon, everyone will know Colorado is home to 35,000 farms and ranches, 100 farmers markets, more than 300 licensed breweries, 130 wineries and more than 70 craft distilleries. Three-quarters of Colorado’s restaurants are independently owned, and the state is gaining a reputation as a sustainability-focused and unpretentious food destination where chefs have the freedom to explore, create and try new things.

For episode recaps, chef interviews and more info on "Top Chef" in Colorado as the season progresses, visit http://www.colorado.com/top-chef-comes-colorado. More information can also be found at Bravotv.com/top-chef & a preview at https://youtu.be/6VNiYsEMO1s

Denver Food + Wine Festival Returns with Even More to Explore!

Denver Food + Wine Festival (DF+WF) returns next week for its thirteenth consecutive year September 5-10! This event has gradually expanded from one attracting epicureans and oenophiles into a multi-day extravaganza attracting all types of foodies and wine and spirit drinkers. The Grand Tasting event not only has a huge selection of wines and eats, but also has entertainment, themed lounge areas,cocktails, sake, even beer, I hear. It is a really fun event and is offers the largest, most diverse selection of wine than any other festival or tasting in the Denver area. In addition the the Grand Tasting, there are various other DF+WF events that week to explore with varying price points.

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To kick the week off the Dinner Under the Stars event, Sept. 6, celebrates the best that Denver’s culinary and beverage scene has to offer with a unique alfresco pairing dinners on the Coohills pedestrian bridge. This curated, six-course meal features a wine pairing with each course, hand-selected by Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits’ Master Sommeliers. Each course is prepared by a lauded Denver chef, representing some of the hottest restaurants in the Mile High City. The menu can be found on the website.

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On Thursday 7, local celebrity bartenders from the Colorado Bartenders Guild will compete for Denver’s “best cocktail” at the ShakeDown. Guests are invited to mingle from 6:30-9:30 while trying as many food bites and cocktails as possible and voting for their favorites of each! Live music from a special acoustic Dragondeer set, featuring members of Dragondeer, will accompany the evening’s festivities. This was a boozy blast last year, but come prepared to drink or you may miss out on the best cocktail!

On Friday 8, join Riedel and the DF+WF for an educational and entertaining program that will change how each guest enjoys wine. In a unique wine glass tasting, Riedel ambassador Doug Reed will demonstrate the relationship between the shape of a glass and the taster’s perception and enjoyment of various varietals. After the seminar, guests can take home a four-glass Riedel kit, valued at $120, containing one glass for each varietal explored in the seminar.

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DF+WF’s Grand Tasting takes place outdoors on Saturday 9 and unites the region’s culinary leaders, award winning chefs, mixologists and wine professionals, for a day of exploring and celebrating Colorado’s food and beverage traditions. The all-inclusive layout allows guests to explore creations from more than 40 top restaurants, and more than 700 different pours from wine and spirit professionals. In addition, the 5280 Home VIP Lounge, will pair specialty wines selected by Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits Master Sommeliers with 12 upscale restaurants for an exclusive experience. Celebrity, award-winning chefs will offer demonstrations on the Wolf Specialty Appliance Culinary Stage and guests can participate in a silent auction.

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And to wrap up this incredible week of DF+WF is a fun brunch festival featuring what will be the world’s largest Bloody Mary bar, with over 65 toppings! Rise + Dine will also feature delicious breakfast bites, bottomless mimosas, and encourage guests to wear their pajamas if they’d like!

http://www.denverfoodandwine.com/

Sunday Funday @ Punch Bowl Social

While Punch Bowl Social, the giant bar, game venue, diner, lounge, whatever you know it as, is nothing new, it’s food and beverage menu is always changing. If you have yet to go, you really should as it offers so much in every category: food, drinks, games, fun.  This large, two-story venue greets guests with a diner-style restaurant, then a 360 degree bar area and bowling lanes, then a back room featuring a “holiday lodge” lounge, two more bowling lanes, and a long line of bocce ball, shuffle board, foosball and corn hole. Upstairs you’ll find vintage arcade games, private karaoke rooms, pool and ping pong tables, another bar and mixed seating.  PBS is a destination where you can spend the whole day and offers food and fun for every mood.

We went for a super Sunday Funday to sample the new Brunch menu and Bloody Mary bar and play some games. Brunch is served Saturday & Sunday until 3 p.m. most of the menu is made in-house, including drinks, desserts and condiments. The brunch menu offers a variety of fresh juice creations, an amazing build your own Bloody Mary bar we were blown away by, and a host of other breakfast drinks and concoctions. PBS is continually changing their menu to reflect the seasons, the trends, and the talents of their chefs. This summer brings a renewed brunch menu that launched July 15th showcasing culinary partner and celebrity chef Hugh Acheson’s Southern spirit.

Hugh Acheson's fresh approach has earned him a great deal of recognition including Food & Wine’s Best New Chef, the Atlanta Journal Constitution Restaurant of the Year, a six-time James Beard nomination for Best Chef Southeast (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012) and the James Beard award in 2012. He has been both a contestant and a judge on Bravo’s Top Chef and now he’s leading the helm of Punch Bowl Social’s culinary creations.

We ordered the Hash Brown Skillet, the Mushroom Biscuits 'N' Gravy, and asked to put their OMFG gluten free fried chicken atop their malted waffle. Our chicken & waffle mash up was delicious with strawberries, crispy basil and this thick chipotle pecan maple syrup (not pictured) that made this dish really delicious. We could eat that thick jam-like syrup on anything. The chicken was close to being as crispy as a flour-fried chicken and juicy on the inside with good flavor. The dish overall was good, but the sauce enhanced it for sure, and ordering it on the side is a smart way to get the right amount with each bite.

The Hash Brown Skillet had layers of hash browns, Tasso Ham, onions, shiitake mushrooms, cheddar cheese and eggs. It was good but didn’t pack the flavor punch we were expecting, some of their special hot sauce helped put some punch in though! The Mushroom Biscuits 'N' Gravy were the standout, looking as good as they lasted. PBS makes a good biscuit in general, and then this dish adds a great gravy, beautiful eggs, perfectly cooked potatoes and a bright side of avocado. Bang for your buck and palette right here!

PBS has locations scattered across the U.S including Portland, Austin, Cleveland and Detroit with another CO location in the works for Stapleton. “at PBS we believe in a ‘dirty modern’ mash up of chandeliers, ‘Gangster’s Paradise,’ food for foodies, PBR tallboys, and craft beverages. We believe in brunch turning into a bowling party and bowling parties turning into all-you-can-sing karaoke. We believe in exploring evenings filled with shuffleboard and made-from-scratch chicken and waffles.”

Go explore Punch Bowl Social for yourself, open everyday with daily happy hour and late night food and fun.

http://www.punchbowlsocial.com/location/denver