Denver has the distinction of being a foodie city chock full of female chefs running several high-profile kitchens in town.
To celebrate that phenom, eight years ago Work Options for Women, a charitable organization that trains women on welfare to work in the food service industry, created WomenCook! an all-female-chef event.
The eighth annual WomenCook! is a walk-around dinner from 6 to 8:30 p.m. May 7 at Temple Emanuel, 51 Grape St. Tickets are $125 apiece at workoptions.org.
What will the women cook, you ask? Here’s the tasty line-up:
* Kathleen Kenny Davia of Gateaux - carrot cake petit four, chocolate lovers cake pops and assorted spring tea cookies.
* Elise Wiggins’ sous chef will stand in for Panzano executive chef who’s leading a cooking tour of Italy - rabbit gnocchi, marinated slow roasted tomato fine herbes, gorgonzola leeks, mushrooms and shallots.
* Dana Rodriguez, Bistro Vendome – rhubarb puff pastry tart with foie gras mousse and micro salad.
* Aniedra Nichols, Elway’s Cherry Creek – beef brisket-kimchi lettuce wrap, sambal mayonnaise.
* Sheila Lucero, Jax Fish House – ahi tuna, cucumber tabbouleh, tamarind vinaigrette.
* Lisa Baily, D Bar Desserts – tropical verrine with passion fruit panna cotta, coconut cream and mango chutney.
* Rachel Kesley, Watercourse – seared baked bean polenta with a vegan smoked “gouda” cherry reduction and corn shoots.
* Sandra Adams, Hyatt – Tart cherry and honeyed goat cheese tart apricot and pistachio frangipane tart and chocolate whiskey caramel tart.
* Yasmin Lozada Hissom and Dorina Miller, Spuntino – sweet pea pesto and homemade ricotta bruschetta.
* Rhonda Banks, Gaetanos – bruschetta with fava beans and radish, and a sweet pea bisque.
* Mary Nguyen, Parallel 17 and Street Kitchen – five spice braised lamb, Asian ratatouille, polenta. Sea bass tartare, sweet potato chips.
* Summer Polson and Ashly Quibodeaux, Project Angel Heart – duck confit tacos with mango salsa and queso fresco.
Also participating: Cafe Options and WOW Cafe.
Longtime Work Options board member and Denver restaurant consultant John Imbergamo, who will miss this year’s event due to Rioja, Bistro Vendome and Euclid Hall chef/owner Jennifer Jasinski’s potential James Beard Award in New York, said the origins of WomenCook! started with former Strings owner Noel Cunningham’s vision.
“He was insistent that Work Options for Women and the Women’s Bean Project collaborate on an event,” Imbergamo said. “We put together the first one in 2005 at the Colorado Convention Center and attracted around 200 people in a room that could hold 500. Lots of echos.
“The next year WOW went the solo route and moved to Temple Emanuel when they graciously offered their event space for free.
“It seemed like a natural fit to create an event that featured Denver’s top women chefs volunteering their time and donating food for a program that teaches food-service skills to welfare-to-work women. There were a few events that zeroed in on women chefs but none designed to draw 500 people like WomenCook! does.”
Fuel your engine
After a tedious construction challenge, Gary Lee’s Motor Club & Grub, 176 S. Broadway, opened on Saturday night.
Housed in a former mechanics’ garage, Gary Lee Bomar and his business partner, Marty Killorin (one third of the Three Kings Tavern owners), are dishing up “custom comfort food” featuring smoked meats and cheeses.
“We’ve turned this place into one of the most beautiful bars in Denver,” Bomar told me.
Bomar has a longtime Denver restaurant-and-bar resume including the nearby Skylark in the neighborhood where he lives. “I would walk by this place,” he said. “Where the cars are always parked, I thought would make a good patio for Broadway. We will have the largest patio on Broadway.”
In addition to smoked fare, Gary Lee’s will offer a Cubano sandwich, vegetarian items including a portabello sandwich, and a salad with arugula, goat cheese and hazelnuts. “Our menu is a little more stylish but still pretty down home,” he said. “I’ve been dreaming about this for 10 years.”
For the next couple of weeks, hours are 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., but when the place is at full speed, hours will increase to 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with Saturday and Sunday brunch from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and regular menu till close. Also on the to-do list: live jazz on the weekends.
Tonier “Neen” Cain, a nationally known speaker and educator on the devastation of trauma, will deliver the keynote speech at Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network’s 11th Annual Mental Health Benefit Luncheon starting at 11 a.m. May 11 at the Inverness Hotel and Conference Center in Englewood.
Cain, who was incarcerated 66 times, finally received treatment for a lifetime of trauma in 2004. She lived on the streets for two decades where she endured violence, hunger and despair.
At the event, emceed by 850KOA radio personality April Zesbaugh, the Distinguished Service and Community Hero awards will be presented to Sen. Linda Newell for her sponsorship of mental health, substance abuse and suicide prevention bills at the Capitol, and John Vellos for his contributions to behavioral health issues.
Tickets: admhn.org or by calling 303-779-9676.
Eavesdropping on a little girl to an adult: “Why do I talk so much?”
“I don’t know.”
“It’s because I have so many words to say!”