Connect with us

Denver, CO

Denver chef named best restaurateur in the nation by James Beard

Published

on

Denver chef named best restaurateur in the nation by James Beard


Two Colorado chefs and restaurateurs struck gold at the “Oscars” of the food industry on Monday, taking home top awards from the James Beard Foundation.

Chef Kelly Whitaker and partner, Erika Whitaker, co-founders of Id Est Hospitality Group, earned the award for Outstanding Restaurateur among five finalists from around the country. Id Est boasts award-winning restaurants like Michelin-starred The Wolf’s Tailor and BRUTØ in Denver and Basta in Boulder, as well as the newish Hey Kiddo in Denver.

Matt Vawter, owner of Rootstalk in Breckenridge, won the title for Best Chef in the Mountain Region — which includes Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming — out of five finalists, including Denver’s chef Penelope Wong, co-owner of Yuan Wonton in Park Hill.

Owner Kelly Whitaker is pictured at The Wolf’s Tailor on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post)

“What a moment, holy crap…,” Erica Whitaker said in her acceptance speech. “When we founded Id Est, our daughter was a year old, and now we’re just 10 days shy of her 16th birthday, and she’s here tonight…”

Advertisement

“…We own seven restaurants, but we also have engaged in so many different conversations around our food supply systems and been food advocates,” Kelly Whitaker added. “All these things are possible: to have restaurants, to have a family and to get involved.

“This year alone, we’ve contracted and built with farmers over 200 acres of regenerative land, we’re growing grains and milling flour. This isn’t just applicable to our tasting-menu restaurants, it’s applicable to a pizza or a sandwich,” he continued.

Kelly Whitaker was previously nominated as a 2020 James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Mountain Chef for Wolf’s Tailor and was also an Outstanding Restaurateur semifinalist in 2023.  “We don’t particularly chase these awards, but we definitely chase the platform this brings, and for that, we know that this is a responsibility,” he said. “I have more sense of fight now more than ever.”

Vawter, in his speech, thanked the James Beard Foundation for “recognizing what we do in our small little mountain community in Breckenridge. I started cooking when I was 14 years old to help my parents pay rent, and I never looked back.”

After working with Denver restaurateur Alex Seidel — another highly decorated James Beard award winner — at Fruition and Mercantile Dining & Provision, Vawter opened Rootstalk in late 2020 in a remodeled home from the 1800s. The restaurant, at 207 N. Main St., focuses on providing “elevated, everyday dining” with seasonal ingredients from local farmers and ranchers, homemade pasta, and a seven-course tasting menu.

Advertisement

“To our producers and our farmers, we get to highlight your products on the plate and in the restaurant, and it makes our lives really easy,” Vawter continued in his speech. “To my partners, Patrick and Cameron who are in the audience, you believed in me when you said let’s open a restaurant in the pandemic, you picked up your lives and moved. You practice what you preach, you work to get better every day and our restaurant wouldn’t exist without you…”

Roasted bone marrow brulee with beef tartare, grilled sourdough and radish salad at Rootstalk on Feb. 28, 2023, in Breckenridge. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)
Roasted bone marrow brulee with beef tartare, grilled sourdough and radish salad at Rootstalk on Feb. 28, 2023, in Breckenridge. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

When the James Beard Foundation announced semifinalists in January, Colorado claimed 13 nominations, as it has for the last two years, including a few in nationally competitive categories such as outstanding restaurateur, outstanding chef and best new restaurant.

Last year, Colorado came up empty-handed in all categories at the prestigious awards. Only one finalist, chef Michael Diaz de Leon formerly of Whitaker’s BRUTØ, was in the running for the Best Chef in the Mountain Region.

Chef Caroline Glover, owner of Annette and Traveling Mercies in Stanley Marketplace, was the last local James Beard Award winner when she took home the Best Chef in the Mountain Region title in 2022.

Subscribe to our new food newsletter, Stuffed, to get Denver food and drink news sent straight to your inbox.



Source link

Advertisement

Denver, CO

Denver Stiffs Show: preparing for the 2024 NBA draft and fee agency

Published

on

Denver Stiffs Show: preparing for the 2024 NBA draft and fee agency


The guys are back to preview the upcoming NBA Draft and free agency and what moves they think the Denver Nuggets will make. First, Zach Mikash and Gordon Gross talk about their favorite targets for the Nuggets at pick #28. Next they talk about how the talent pool in the draft changes the strategy and that Denver can and should try to find an immediate contributor in the right role and situation. For the second half of the show the guys look at the upcoming free agency period. They talk about Vlatko Cancar’s option being declined by the Nuggets and what they think will happen with the looming free agency of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Finally they finish up the show talking about some taxpayer mid-level exception targets the Nuggets could have if KCP does indeed end up not coming back.

The NBA Draft is right around the corner

  • Favorite prospects for the Denver Nuggets
  • Should Denver just go best player available and forget position
  • Do you anticipate any trades

A week from the open of free agency

  • Surprised the Nuggets declined Vlatko Cancar’s option?
  • What happens with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Reggie Jackson’s player options?
  • Who is a taxpayer MLE target?



Source link

Continue Reading

Denver, CO

Denver police host bike registration stations for Bike to Work Day

Published

on

Denver police host bike registration stations for Bike to Work Day


Posted:

Updated:

DENVER (KDVR) — The Denver Police Department will offer free bike registration at several locations in the city for Bike to Work Day on Wednesday, June 26.

Advertisement

The city partners with 529 Garage for its bike registration system, which it said enhances bicycle theft prevention, lost or stolen bike recovery and stolen bike investigations, among other things.

Registrations document things like the bike’s serial number and make, model and color for easier identification and return if lost or stolen.

Volunteers will be at five locations throughout the city on Wednesday to encourage people to register and help people register:

  • Denver Zoo from 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.
  • REI at 1416 Platte St. from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.
  • Cherry Creek Trail at South University Boulevard and Cherry Creek North Drive from 6:45 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
  • East 29th Avenue Town Center at East 29th Avenue and North Roslyn Street from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
  • Skyline Park at 16th Street and Arapahoe Street from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.

According to police, more than 400 bikes that were recovered in 2022 were never claimed or returned to their owners due to lack of registration.

People who register at the locations will receive a 529 Shield decal, which police said could let thieves know that the bike is registered, as well as help police in stolen bike recovery.

People can also register their bikes online for free either through the DPD website or the 529 Garage app.

Advertisement



Source link

Continue Reading

Denver, CO

“Christian privilege” in Colorado mountain town’s amphitheater fuels church-and-state storm

Published

on

“Christian privilege” in Colorado mountain town’s amphitheater fuels church-and-state storm


DILLON – Town leaders’ refusal to reconsider a longstanding practice of letting a Christian church use the Dillon Amphitheater for Sunday prayers has hurled the town into a national storm over worship in public facilities.

They now face potential lawsuits from pressure groups. Freedom from Religion Foundation attorneys are demanding an end to any preferential treatment for the Dillon Community Church. The rival First Liberty Institute sent a countervailing letter urging continued use, warning that recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions favor greater mixing of church and state.

Town staffers hit with multiplying requests from a diversity of religious groups to rent the amphitheater had proposed to shut down access by all outside groups and allow only town-sponsored events such as rock concerts. But town council members on June 11 rejected that approach and voted 5-1 to allow continued use by the church. Two members derided Dillon’s Denver-based contract attorney Kathleen Kelly for creating roadblocks after she raised constitutional concerns. Kelly resigned the next day.

The drama lit up chat sites — Friendly Athiest commenters decried “Christian privilege” — and led to a special meeting Wednesday night where town leaders faced a cacophony from residents. Then leaders accepted advice from a new attorney and back-tracked, temporarily prohibiting the use of the amphitheater by all groups until leaders set a legally defensible policy.

Advertisement
Dillon town manager Nathan Johnson, right, and town council member John Woods listen to a member of the public speak during the open comment period of a special meeting held to discuss the use of Dillon Amphitheater at Town Hall in Dillon, Colorado on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Photo by Zachary Spindler-Krage/The Denver Post)

“There needs to be a separation of church and state. We cannot favor one denomination over another,” town manager Nathan Johnson said in an interview. “Now with the popularity of the venue we have more and more people reaching out. Everybody wants to be down there,” he said.

“If we are going to open up the amphitheater, we have to open it up for everybody.”

For more than 40 years, Dillon leaders have let the Dillon Community Church, a non-denominational Christian organization that owns a building a few blocks away, run evangelical “outreach” events appealing to Colorado high country visitors.

The amphitheater was built in 1993 as a low-key community band shell. Town officials have transformed it into one of the nation’s trendiest concert venues by investing $10 million, including a $1 million grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, for an overhaul completed in 2018. Seats on a grassy hillside look out on the blue waters of Lake Dillon, a Denver Water reservoir, and majestic snow-splotched mountain peaks. Town officials charge a $25,000 fee for promoters of town-sponsored concerts. The venue holds up to 3,656 people. Town-sponsored activities also include country line dancing and yoga.

People participate in a Yoga at the Amp session hosted by Summit Sol Wellness at Dillon Amphitheater in Dillon, Colorado on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Photo by Zachary Spindler-Krage/The Denver Post)
People participate in a Yoga at the Amp session hosted by Summit Sol Wellness at Dillon Amphitheater in Dillon, Colorado on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Photo by Zachary Spindler-Krage/The Denver Post)

But religious worship is now canceled.

Dillon Community Church officials had lauded town leaders’ initial stance. “We are grateful that the council voted down the new policy that would limit all non-profit organizations that are not city-sponsored,” their posting said.

Advertisement

Senior pastor Jim Howard said Friday he’s confident town council members will sort out future access. “If they say we can’t use it while they figure out the legalities, we’ll stay in our building. We definitely don’t want a lawsuit,” Howard said.

The church paid a $1,100 annual rental fee, town officials said, and Howard said his 220-member church draws 300 to 800 people to the Sunday worship events.

Church members have mobilized. “Dillon Community Church should be grandfathered into whatever contract. They’ve been here for over 40 years,” church representative Wendy Myers told leaders at the packed special meeting. “It attracts an incredible number of our visitors who come to the county every single summer and love coming to church.”

She and others advocated opening the amphitheater to all religious groups. Former council member Tim Westerberg supports that but also spoke out against new council members’ political tactics. “They don’t seem to care about what the community thinks. They don’t seem to care about what their attorney says. They don’t seem to care about what the Constitution says. It’s just damn the torpedoes full speed away, bulldoze ahead our agenda.”

LEFT A packed room of people stand up to leave after the Dillon town council voted to move to a closed session during a special meeting held to discuss use of Dillon Amphitheater at Town Hall in Dillon, Colorado on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. RIGHT Mike Smith, a 53-year resident of Dillon and three-time member of the town board, stands in the middle of council chambers to address the crowd as they are leaving after the council voted to move to a closed session at Town Hall in Dillon, Colorado on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Photos by Zachary Spindler-Krage/The Denver Post)
LEFT– A packed room of people stand up to leave after the Dillon town council voted to move to a closed session during a special meeting held to discuss use of Dillon Amphitheater on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. RIGHT— Mike Smith, a 53-year resident of Dillon and three-time member of the town board, stands in the middle of council chambers to address the crowd as they are leaving after the council voted to move to a closed session. (Photos by Zachary Spindler-Krage/The Denver Post)

Problems around prayers in the amphitheater arose earlier this year when other religious groups, including a Jewish synagogue, Native American tribes, and people of various faiths planning weddings asked to rent the facility, Johnson said. “Everybody is attracted to the lake, the natural beauty of the lake,” he said.

“It’s a dilemma because an expectation has been set” in allowing the Dillon Community Church events.

Advertisement

When other religious groups requested access, “we put them on hold,” he said. “That’s what started this conversation. We haven’t told anyone ‘no’ – at least that I’m aware of. We want to have clear and definitive direction from the town council on what is allowed and not allowed in this setting.”

If Dillon officials excluded any other religious group, members of that group could file a civil rights lawsuit, said Madeline Ziegler, staff attorney for the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, which has filed a legal petition seeking town communications with the Dillon Community Church and other groups to explore a possible lawsuit.

Dillon’s practice has sent “a signal to the town residents that their government prefers Christianity and that Christians will be treated better than other people in this town. That’s not a message that the people’s representatives should be allowed to send,” Ziegler said.

Dillon could avoid a lawsuit by setting a formal policy that includes “a welcoming and inclusive message that all are welcome and equally allowed to use the town’s facilities,” she said.  Otherwise, town leaders would be acting to ensure “the continued dominance of one church that has the backing of the town over all other religious organizations.”

Attorneys with the Texas-based First Liberty Institute, a conservative Christian legal organization devoted to”restoring religious liberty,” have prevailed in cases at the U.S. Supreme Court, where justices have decided that “history and tradition” must be considered in determining whether government is too intertwined with religion.

Advertisement

Senior attorney Lea Patterson, in her letter sent Tuesday, encouraged Dillon leaders “to continue to allow the church to rent the amphitheater” so as not to invite a lawsuit.

Finding space for religion in Colorado increasingly presents challenges. Soaring real estate prices mean church groups can be hard-pressed to afford buildings, said Jon Stavney, director of the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, which supports local leaders. “Look at the cost of housing. If you are a church, it makes sense to use public space at a reduced cost,” Stavney said.

In the Eagle Valley west of Vail, the Redeemer church rents space for Sunday worship at the public Brush Creek Elementary School.

For elected leaders, deciding to end a longstanding public worship tradition such as the Dillon Community Church’s use of the town amphitheater can be politically perilous because leaders in small towns typically have to face down residents in grocery aisles, he said.

“If I were in their shoes, and this entity had been using a public space for a long time, I would have some loyalty to the history of that group using that facility.”

Advertisement
Beams of sunlight shine onto the landscape behind Dillon Amphitheater on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Dillon, Colorado. (Photo by Zachary Spindler-Krage/The Denver Post)
Beams of sunlight shine onto the landscape behind Dillon Amphitheater on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Dillon, Colorado. (Photo by Zachary Spindler-Krage/The Denver Post)

Get more Colorado news by signing up for our daily Your Morning Dozen email newsletter.



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending