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Table Talk: Friends of James Beard Dinner honors late chef, raises money for scholarships

December 7, 2016 Updated: December 7, 2016 at 7:34 pm
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Alex Seidel prepared the first course of the Friends of James Beard Dinner was "surf and turf," which was octopus carpaccio accompanied by confit veal sweetbreads, tiny chopped root vegetables and dabs of apple jam. Photo by Teresa Farney

For the fifth year, some of Colorado's top toques have come together to prepare a Friends of James Beard Dinner at Devil's Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa in Tabernash. The unique dinner was enjoyed by 82 guests who paid $200 each for the privilege of tasting the over-the-top, eight-course feast. Joseph Phelps wines were paired with each course.

Chefs who prepared a Friends of James Beard Dinner at Devil's Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa in Tabernash from left: Matt Vawter, Brian Wilson, Alex Seidel, Jeff Osaka, Justin Brunson, Brandon Foster and Paul C. Reily. Photo by Teresa Farney 

The dinner had a bittersweet meaning for the ranch chefs who organized the event. It was held in memory of Evan Treadwell, who was executive chef at Devil's Thumb from 2011 until his death in a boating accident this year. In 2012, he spearheaded the idea of holding the annual dinners. That first dinner was prepared by the ranch staff. In 2013, he recruited several Denver chefs to prepare the food. Proceeds from the Friends of James Beard dinners, which are held nationally at various venues, support culinary scholarships.

"Every year, the dinner has grown in size and stature because of Evan's passion," said Bob Fanch, who with his wife, Suzanne, has owned Devil's Thumb resort for 15 years.

The big announcement at the end of the dinner was that a teaching kitchen is under construction as part of the community center in Winter Park and will be named in honor of Treadwell. The kitchen is targeted to open in 2018.

Joining Natalie Basarov, pastry chef at Devil's Thumb Ranch, were Denver chefs including Alex Seidel, Fruition and Mercantile Dining & Provision; Justin Brunson, Old Major; Brandon Foster, Project Angel Heart; Paul C. Reilly, Beast + Bottle; Brian Wilson, chef de cuisine, Beast + Bottle; and Jeff Osaka, Osaka Ramen.

New chef

Patrick Kelly, has stepped up to the executive chef position at Panzano, 909 17th St., Denver. Having grown up in Cheyenne, Wyo., his move to Denver from the Bay Area, is somewhat of a homecoming. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of American, he spent 11 years working at leading restaurants in Northern California's wine country.

Patrick Kelly is new executive chef at Panzano restaurant in Denver. Photo by Teresa Farney 

His menu features contemporary Northern Italian dishes with homemade pasta and breads. The chef's tasting menu is the way to go to experience the variety of flavors Kelly creates. He is bringing back the popular monthly cooking classes, another way to sample his food. Unless otherwise noted, the classes are $60 per person and start at 11 a.m. on Saturdays. Make it a gourmet getaway with an overnight stay at the stylish Hotel Monaco, which houses Panzano. Details: 1-303-296-3525,


Here are a couple of ways to get stocked up on booze for the holiday season:

- Champagne and Sparkling Wine tasting at Downtown Fine Spirits & Wines, 103 S. Wahsatch Ave., 3 to 5 p.m. Dec. 17. A donation for Ariel Clinical Services requested. Bring an appetizer to share. Reservations required. Details: 475-8115, email

- The Infamous Christmas Wine Sale Tasting by Coaltrain Fine Wine, Craft Beer and Spirits takes place at The Gold Room at The Mining Exchange, 18 S. Nevada Ave., 6 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday. Sample more than 40 wines, craft beers and spirits with hors d'oeuvres prepared by Springs Orleans, along with live music. Cost is $50 in advance, $55 at the door. Details: 475-9700,

Free food

Who doesn't like free food - especially when it's a milkshake? On Friday the Colorado-based Larkburger chain will celebrate its 10th anniversary by offering each guest a free, small birthday cake-flavored milkshake, no purchase necessary, at all 12 Colorado locations. Follow the restaurant chain on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for more free food opportunities Friday through Sunday.

Holiday sips

Bartender extraordinaire Nate Windham will share his knowledge and passion about making punches with Lee Spirits at Brooklyn's on Boulder St., 110 E. Boulder St., 1 to 3 p.m. Dec. 18. For $40 per person, enjoy a few glasses of punch with pie and get recipes for making your own punches. Reservations required. Visit

'KVOR Table Talk'

Saturday's "KVOR Table Talk" radio show is benched for the AFA game. Go Falcons!


Send tips about restaurant openings, closings and specials to, 636-0271, Twitter: @tffoodie or Facebook Teresa Farney.

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