If Day 1 of The Broadmoor’s very inclusive Taste & Savor Food Festival was all about your individual foodie preferences (choose your favorite seminars, pick your favorite themed dinner, etc.), Day 2 was about the collective group of food lovers getting together to enjoy what The Broadmoor has constructed for this first annual weekend of Taste & Savor.
There were still break-out sessions in the morning covering everything from pasta making to cooking in the Northwest, but once the afternoon hit it was all about group panel discussions and the grand tasting gala where the excellent group of chef talent from Colorado and around the US served signature dishes while the amount of wine and cocktails poured would make Broadmoor founder (and famous bootleg booze enthusiast) Spencer Penrose blush.
My day started with the aforementioned “Beautiful Pasta Seminar” with Denver chef Frank Bonanno. Bonanno seemingly owns the majority of restaurants in Denver (seriously — he has over 10 concepts under his Bonanno Concepts umbrella) and he couldn’t be more likable.
A Colorado Andrew Zimmern-type with slightly more hair, Bonanno gave a fun, engaging lesson on authentic pasta making and showed the smallish audience how to make their own ricotta cheese, roll their own pasta, and put it all together for a wonderful buratta raviolo with a fresh egg yolk inside.
After the pasta workshop, the afternoon was filled with back-to-back seminars hosted by the spritely Sissy Biggers and routinely interrupted by master-of-ceremonies Steve Olson, who didn’t seem to understand that we were there to hear the chefs speak and not him.
“The Politics of Food Today” panel worried me at first. There was surface discussion of how the farm-to-table movement has improved over the past decade and I was afraid the moderators weren’t quite well versed in the actual politics of food today. The chefs, however, took over and made the panel truly interesting. Both Frank Bonanno (green shirt) and Tyler Wiard of Elway’s Steakhouse (blue shirt) really stepped up and talked about their history with farmers in Colorado (shout-out to Tom McCracken) and Wierd especially denounced the tendency of diners to insist upon organic certification for their foods. It was one of the most honest and open panel discussions with chefs that I’ve ever witnessed.
The next panel was called “Side Dishes Take Center Stage,” but it should really have been called “Vegetables: Remember Us?” For over an hour, the chefs (but mostly the moderators, it seemed) just named vegetables they liked and talked about them. Cauliflower! Kale! Kohlrabi! It was like walking through the produce section of the grocery store. There was also an extended section of the panel spent of talking about avocado toast where Steve Olson screamed at the audience “You’ve never even heard of it!” while chefs like Jessica Koslow (Sqirl) and Kelly Liken (Restaurant Kelly Liken) did their best to actually provide information. I think this is one panel that would have benefited greatly from being hosted by an actual chef.
As opposed to the seated dinners of Friday night, Saturday night was all about the Taste & Savor Grand Tasting at Broadmoor Hall. Inside an enormous banquet hall (quite similar to the dining room at Hogwart’s but with less owls), all of the invited chefs set up tables with small portions of their signature dishes.
Tyler Wiard of Elway’s plated wagyu NY strip steak with chimichurri (above). Suzanne Tracht (Jar in Los Angeles) served her signature pot roast with a wonderful horseradish cream sauce. Tattoed chefmodel Curtis Duffy (Grace in Chicago) offered bowls of gorgeous ruby red — and slightly endangered — bluefin tuna with a brown butter mushroom sauce.
Married chef team Greg and Gaby Denton (OX in Portland) stole the show with their bone marrow crouton-topped clam chowder. All in all, it was a delicious evening capped with some Valrhona chocolate for dessert.