It’s a Sunday night, Easter, and 4/20, but tonight 5 of Denver’s best chefs gather to celebrate something far more important than all of that: great food.
Of course, the holiday(s) have to be acknowledged in some of the food and drink. And though there’s no actual cannabis in the dishes to play on the 4/20 date (unlike some other LA popup dinners we’ve seen), a more general “Colorado-Radical” theme inspires the plates coming out of the Old Major kitchen that Chef Nadine Donovan calls home year round.
Upon arrival, the open patio offers the perfect “Easter cocktail” to kick off the evening. Playfully called a “get yo’ grandma drunk” drink by its maker, Brian Smith, the Mommy Dearest features Jinn Gin, Carpano Bianco, Queen City Spirits Toasted Coconuts, Gruner Veltliner syrup (!), and floral aromatics.
Passed appetizers pay homage to a few Colorado and Easter themes. Chef Jenna Johansen’s “Easter dinner in a bite” combines classic Easter components into a bright red deviled egg while Chef Elise Wiggins’ seafood appetizers comes out “smoked” in shot glasses that remind me of Chef Ian’s dry ice creations from his Willy Wonka dinner last year.
The entrées prove just as playful as the appetizers, with Table 6‘s Carrie Blake using a “hemp bread” for her Toad in the Hole dish.
Jenna Johansen‘s “trout & eggs” dish elevates some common ingredients, pairing scrambled eggs with delicate fish roe.
Elways‘ Aniedra Nichols goes for local Colorado ingredients, featuring a Colorado lamb loin in her “lamb & cheese” sandwich, served with a shaved broccoli salad.
Panzano‘s Elise Wiggins invites us to “eat thumper” with a deliciously morbid play on the Easter theme. Her dish is my overall favorite, featuring fruition farms ricotta gnocchi and a tender prosciutto wrapped rabbit loin. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with for the FIVE™ dinner she’s hosting at Panzano in two weeks!
For our fifth course, our hostess Nadine Donovan prepares a gourmet twinkie, “because what stoner wouldn’t want a twinkie on 4/20?” The concept is adorable, but the execution is undeniably sophisticated, incorporating a decadently drool-worthy lemon semifreddo and strawberry milk crumble. My date confides that this is his favorite dish of the evening, which is astounding considering he’s not usually a dessert person.
DISCLAIMER: normally I would not associate with “not dessert people” as I find that statement fundamentally wrong and troubling, but I am willing to accept this in a romantic relationship because it means I usually get to eat all the cake.
And of course, the greatest treat of the evening was seeing these five chefs work so well together in the kitchen, laughing and rocking out all the way.
The next FIVE at Five™ event is a “T&A” themed dinner on 5/19 at Panzano! Get your tickets here for only $75 (that’s passed apps, five courses, cocktails, beer, wine, tax AND tip included). And if you need another excuse to eat great food, 20% of the profits from this dinner even go to charities (MSU and SOS)! See you there!