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Penny Parker’s On The Town: Hearty summer parties coming up

The 8th Annual Denver Food and Wine event is the party of the summer to benefit the Colorado Restaurant Association. It runs from Sept. 6-9 at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Here’s the drill:

* Thursday, Sept. 6, features a special wine dinner at Metro’s new Hospitality Learning Center.  Seating is limited to 34 people, and the dinner features wines and a “special guest” by Southern Wine and Spirits.  Evening will include cocktails and appetizers, tour of new venue, dinner by Denver chefs.

* Friday, Sept. 7, includes an industry/trade breakfast sponsored by the Colorado Hotel Lodging Association and Colorado Restaurant Association with speakers from the CH&LA and CRA.  The location will be the ballroom of the new Springfield Suites by Marriott. There’ll also be demos and seminars in the new Hospitality Learning Center as well as Riedel glass seminars. During the evening will be Restaurants Rock in the Springfield Suites and HLC Tastes, featuring live entertainment, tastes from Denver restaurants and spirits and wines from Southern Wine and Spirits.

* Saturday, Sept. 8, will be a “grand tasting” for the general public set up under tents in the quadrangle at 7th & Lawrence Way. It will feature tastes of more than 600 wines and spirits and food from over 40 restaurants. There’ll be a Tented VIP Plaza, a Pernod Ricard Lounge, a Beam Global Lounge, a Viking Culinary Stage with confirmed guest Chef Dario Cecchini, the Butcher of Panzano.

* Sunday, Sept. 9, there’s a special dinner at Panzano with Dario and Demo. The Denver Broncos play the Pittsburgh Steelers at 6:30 p.m.

A total of 5,000 people are expected for all the events.

Media sponsors are Entercom Radio Stations – KOSI, The Mountain, ALICE, KEZW; The Denver Post; 9News; Dining Out Magazine; Larimer Associates; Visit Denver; and The Denver Partnership. Beneficiaries are the Denver Post Community Foundation, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Colorado Restaurant Association Education Foundation scholarship program.

More information:  www.denverfoodandwine.com

Hot Rocks rocks!

I have been an unabashed fan of John Elway’s since I moved to Denver in 1993. I never take a close encounter with him for granted. So last night at the Hot Rocks Griller Challenge was special because I got to sidle up to the NFL Hall of Famer and have my picture snapped. It never gets old.

Thanks, John. I adore you and will always be proud to call you a friend. You rock my world!

Muy caliente!

Hot Rocks Griller Challenge pitted super chefs against each other in heated competition to raise money for Denver Health Medical Center Men’s Health Department.

There were two competitions for Best Slider. People’s Choice winners were:

1. Tyler Wiard, Aniedra Nichols of Elway’s Cherry Creek

2. Troy Guard, TAG, TAG Raw Bar and Madison Street Grill

3. Simon Purvis, EDGE Restaurant

In the Chefs’ Choice competition:

A tie between Troy Guard and Paul Reilly of Encore.

Eavesdropping on a woman in a Suburban who backed into a Toyota Prius and then became defiant with the owner of the Prius about the accident:  She claimed that the accident wasn’t her fault because she was on her phone, backing up and the Prius was so small she couldn’t see it.

At that point the Arapahoe County sheriff said to her, “How are you going to explain to your insurance company that it wasn’t your fault when the vehicle you hit was parked and there was no driver in it?”

The woman had nothing more to say.

Be sure to like my Facebook page! Also, here’s where you go to get my column emailed to you Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I’m now the social-media liaison for the Mile High Chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association, so read my latest restaurant news there. My email: penny@blacktie-llc.com.

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Penny Parker’s On The Town: Elephant waltzes into downtown Denver

Hey, there’s an elephant on my street; how he got there I’ll never know.

If you’re in the vicinity of Curtis and 18th streets on Saturday, don’t be surprised to see an elephant lumbering toward The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Denver.

The elephant entry signifies the third and final wedding ceremony between an East Indian doctor and his American wife. Three ceremonies are planned with the last being an Indian tradition of having the bride arrive at the reception location aboard an elephant being trucked in from California for the occasion.

I’ve been told that there will be street closures and off-duty police officers along the route. “I understand they’ve taken out tons of (city) permits,” said a source. Representatives from the mayor’s office could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Get your grill on

It’ll be a hot time in the old town when a slew of chefs fire up their grills and serve up sliders during the fourth annual Hot Rocks Griller Challenge, a fundraiser for the Denver Health Foundation’s men’s health programs, from 6 to 9 p.m. June 13 at Elway’s Cherry Creek.

Roughly 16 of the top local chefs will get their grill on to compete for top honors in the slider competition where the winner is determined by popular vote. Attendees can purchase chips (votes) from $5 to $100, and flip chips into the receptacles on their favorite chefs’ tables. Each chef will concoct a creative slider plus a side dish that will be paired with a wine.

The heated competition represents some of Denver’s best culinary talent including: Steve Ballas (Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs), Robert Bogart (Elway’s Downtown), Michael Bortz (City Bakery), Jamey Fader (Lola, Big Red F Restaurant Group), Troy Guard (TAG, TAG Raw Bar, Madison Grill), Jennifer Jasinski (Rioja, Bistro Vendome, Euclid Hall), Simon Purvis (EDGE Restaurant), Paul Reilly (formerly of Encore), Matt Selby and Brandon Biederman (Vesta Dipping Grill, Steuben’s), Goose Sorensen (Solera), Darrel Truett (Barolo Grill), Tyler Wiard and Aniedra Nichols (Elway’s Cherry Creek), Elise Wiggins (Panzano) and Sean Yontz (El Diablo).

Denver’s own Chris Daniels and the Kings will provide musical entertainment. Guests can also “pay to play” the Hyde Park Jewelers High Striker test of skills game. Event chairs Michael Pollak (Hyde Park) and John Elway (Broncos, Hall of Fame) will fan the fun.

Tickets are $100 apiece or $250 for early admission and entrance to the VIP Lounge. Purchase them at denverhealthfoundation.org.

In memoriam

Hank Dire, owner of the iconic Bonnie Brae Tavern, died Monday at age 84. Hank had worked at the family restaurant since he was 5 years old.

Most Precious Blood Catholic Church, 3959 E. Iliff Ave., will be the location for a memorial service at 10 a.m. Monday.

Another long-time Colorado restaurateur Timothy Lee Galloway died last November, but the current issue of  issue of Golf Digest tells the touching story of how his son, Winn, took his dad for a round of golf at Pebble Beach where Tim scored a hole in one.

Tim worked at Boulder restaurants including Flagstaff House, Red Lion Inn, Potter’s, the restaurants at the Boulderado Hotel and Cork n’ Cleaver.

Check out the Golf Digest story (have your hanky nearby) here.

Dad’s day

Four local men may be captains of industry and pillars in the community, but they are most proud of being a dad.

Walt DeHaven, vice president and general manager of CBS4; Steve Erkenbrack, president and CEO of Rocky Mountain Health Plans; Greg Feasel, executive vice president and COO of the Colorado Rockies and Jeff Jones, co-president and CFO of Vail Resorts, were lauded Wednesday night during the Father of the Year Awards, a fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association.

The ballroom at the Grand Hyatt was packed with supporters who were treated to touching video tributes from children of the honored fathers.

Evening emcee CBS4 anchor Jim Benemann warmed up the crowd with some of his own “dad-isms”.

“I remember my dad fondly for the things he taught me such as, ‘Oh, I’ll give you something to cry about.’ Or, ‘Because I said so, that’s why.’”

Speaking of dear old dad

Are you tardy to the dad’s day party? There’s still time to make Father’s Day brunch or dinner reservations. Go to opentable.com to see a list of special Father’s Day feasts.

Eavesdropping on a man watching The View: “They should just call this,’ We All Talk at the Same Time.’”

Be sure to like my Facebook page! Also, here’s where you go to get my column emailed to you Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I’m now the social-media liaison for the Mile High Chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association, so read my latest restaurant news there. My email: penny@blacktie-llc.com.

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Penny Parker’s On The Town: Meet the chief

Denver Police Department Chief Robert White will be on the hot seat from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Saturday during a live tweeting event at Coffee on the Point, 710 E. 26th Ave.

The hashtag is #ASKDPD if you have questions to send Chief White. The format will be a casual Q&A with about 8 to 10 people. Just a thought, but I would ask him how he’s going to implement the “no sleeping on the streets” policy. Tough duty.

Traffic twist

CBS 4 Denver has been a’ changing in its morning news team. Management elected not to keep Jane Monreal, the previous traffic reporter. Instead, they hired Joel Hillan, who most recently was a traffic reporter and news anchor at KOA radio. Before that gig, he was a news anchor and reporter at a TV station in Grand Junction.

CBBS 4 news director Tim Wieland tells me that Hillan “lives and breathes traffic.”

“Traffic is critically important to our morning news viewers – and I wanted someone who will eat, sleeep and breathe traffic and that certainly describes Joel. If anything happens in the metro area that could impact your comuite – this guy is on it!”

You can follow him on Twitter @JoelHillan and he has started a traffic blog on CBSDenver.com: denver.cbslocal.com/2012/05/22/denver-moves-up-a-few-spots-in-new-traffic-ratings/.

When I e-mailed Wieland about this new guy (yes, I’m up early enough to watch the show), I asked him who’s the guy with the bucket full of teeth? I’m just envious.

Burger bash

CityGrille, an awesome steak burger joint at 321 E. Colfax turns 14 on Tuesday, but you get the benefit of its birthday. That day you can get a $5 steak burger and fries from 3 to 9 p.m. and $1 draft beers from 3 to 6 p.m. Website: citygrille.com to get the coupon.

Disco isn’t dead

Cherry nightclub at 231 Milwaukee St. in Cherry Creek North will pay homage to the passing of Disco Queen Donna Summer and Bee Gees brother Robin Gibb starting at 7 p.m. tonight with Cherry’s “54 Friday” party.

They will pay tribute by playing songs from the stars of the legendary Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Cherry will continue the “54 Friday” parties every fourth Friday of the month. More info? cherrydenver.com.

Beer here

The Lowry Beer Garden opened this week inside the new Hanger 2 development in Lowry. Larimer Associates, the owner, gutted the east dock building attached to the hanger to create the nearly 8,000-squre-foot bar, beer garden and restaurant.

The Lowry Beer Garden will feature more than 4,500 square feet of outdoor garden area with open-air seating and a covered pavillion that will accommodate 350 guests.

There are 16 beers on tap plus more by the bottle as well as a full bar and speciality cocktails. Acclaimed chef Troy Guard (TAG, TAG Raw Bar and Madison) consulted on the quick-serve menu.

Partner Christopher Mohaupt from Billy’s Inn will oversee daily operations of the new project.

Eavesdropping at a bar in LoDo: Patron at the bar: “…So then we see a bunch of Hillbillies.”

Bartender: “Excuse me, I believe they prefer to be called Appalachian Americans.”

My Facebook page has moved. Be sure to like it! Also, here’s where you go to get my column emailed to you Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. My email: penny@blacktie-llc.com.

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Sushi follows pizza into LoDo, tacos not far behind

April 19, 2012

Sushi eateries are invading LoDo with the same feeding frenzy that recently put a plethora of pizza places in the neighborhood.

Hapa Sushi Grill & Sake Bar, will open its fifth outlet in the former India House space at 1514 Blake St., Blue Sushi Sake Grill this summer will take over part of the old Dixons building at 16th and Wazee, and Aoba is soon to open in the old Organixx space at 15th and Blake.

That’s a lot of fish swimming into the same lake. Hapa, with locations in Boulder (two), Cherry Creek and the Landmark project south, is owned by Mark Van Grack, who last month bought the 1514 Blake St. building from India House owner Gughi Singh for $2.1 million.  Singh bought the place nearly 10 years ago for $950,000, according to public records.

Meanwhile, Denver chef-restaurateur Troy Guard and the H Burger boys are making a run for the border with two taco joints in the works – on East Pearl in Boulder and in the former 8 Rivers location at 1515 Blake St. They expect to sign the 8 Rivers lease next week.

Guard, who already has TAG, TAG Raw Bar and Madison Street in his culinary collection, said T|aco (pronounced Tee-ahko, a take on H Burger) will open the Boulder store the first week in May. The downtown restaurant opens in August.

“The menu will have 10 tacos, a salad, chips, guac, fresh salsa, ceviche, homemade tortillas and a tamale of the week,” Guard said. “The kind of food I like to eat. I think Mexican food is making a comeback with a twist.”

Certainly Pinche Tacos owner Kevin Morrison, one of the founders of the Spicy Pickle sandwich shops, would agree. He’s had mucho success with his tiny taqueria at 1514 York St.

And H Burger will open another outlet on East Pearl next to Pizzeria Locale also in the first week of May. “We’re just a little busy,” joked partner Geoff Smith.

House with spouse

I told you recently that former Nuggets star Nene and his wife, Lauren, got their Grape Street home under contract for $1.6 million before he was traded to the Washington Wizards. But it doesn’t look like the Hilarios are real estate poor in Denver.

Earlier this year, the couple upgraded to a posh pad in the Buell Mansion subdivision for $3.4 million.

Perhaps the Hilarios will hang on to the Cherry Hills Village nest where they’ll return to roost during the off season.

Strings celebrated

Strings owners Tammy and Noel Cunningham were among the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Neighbor Award winners honored during a gala dinner Wednesday at its 2012 Public Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.

The Cunninghams (Noel died in December) were named this year’s Cornerstone Humanitarians for their philanthropic efforts. Each honoree was given a $5,000 contribution to his or her charitable initiatives.

Baby steps

Congrats to The Palm general manager Cathy Cooney Green and hubby Brian Green on the April 2 arrival of baby Finnegan Robert Green. The tot’s stats were 7 pounds 3 ounces and 21 inches long.

Cathy expects to return to the power lunch steak place June 1.

Signs of the times

In the Lime XS parking lot on Sixth Avenue: “Party like a piñata, get smashed. Cinco de Mayo.”

On the marquee outside of the shuttered Caldonia’s on Parker Road: “Closed forever.”

Eavesdropping on a periodontist: “Your teeth don’t care whether you have dental insurance.”

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