By Cory Phare
5280 magazine’s list of the 25 best restaurants in Denver is an invaluable resource to find the hottest spots in a culinary city on the ascendency.
The publication’s Oct. 20 5280 Dines event in the Stanley Marketplace was a chance for foodies to sample selections from the city’s best chefs all under one roof.
Roadrunners were there in force, sharing sliders garnished with pickled beets and a cheese sauce made with their namesake brew from the Tivoli Brewing Co. The mini-burger was paired with an apple-pie milkshake, made with caramel apple anglaise, dulce de leche, cinnamon sugar and a brown-sugar pecan crumble.
“We’re thrilled to represent MSU Denver and show off our students among the best restaurants in the Denver metro area,” said Chef Jason Rice, who was one of the coordinating faculty members from the University’s hospitality school. “Each one of our students brings unique experiences and talents to this project.”
RED sent photographer Amanda Schwengel to 5280 Dines to capture a feast for your eyes.
Josue Barrancas preps a crème anglaise in the Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center lab. The restaurant-management senior also has a minor in water studies, which he sees as integral to the success of a hospitality endeavor. “I discovered my path when I got involved with a community garden after high school,” Barrancas said. “From growing the food to cleaning afterward, the No. 1 input is water – it’s such a valuable resource.”
Chef Jennifer Watson discusses with Barrancas the production process of the egg custard that formed the base of the vanilla shake.
“You have to be careful to cook it enough to thicken the sauce without it turning into a giant pot of scrambled eggs,” she said. “It’s not hard; it’s tricky.”
Christina Bekhova is an event-management senior who owns Elevated Peacock Designs, a full-suite event-planning and design company; she took Watson's baking and pastry class as a nonmajor to gain relevant related experience.
“The course is really helpful to learn about baking trends that can affect events like weddings and parties,” she said. “The ability to enroll in a class like this helps us become better planners – and the Halloween macaroons I’ll bring home afterward from it will be gone within 24 hours.”
RELATED: 9 must-try chocolate ice creams
“We’ve structured this to be an exercise in what it takes to produce 700 sliders and shakes,” said Jimi Webb (not pictured), advisor for the hospitality program and one of the event coordinators. “All week, we’ve had different duties: three on the burger elements, two making cheese sauce for five hours.
“Now it all comes together – from production to service, it’s about watching the guests enjoy the results here on-site.”
RELATED: How to pair meat and beer
Chef Jeff Koch (left) led students from his food preservation class in pickling the beets that were a garnish on top of the sliders served up Sunday.
From left: Callie Schriener, Melissa Casillas, Marija Vujkovic.
Barrancas (not pictured) noted the importance of flexibility – and location.
“The atmosphere here is great,” he said. “I started out working with the shakes, but we’re right next to the bar and people were grabbing more burgers, so I shifted over to help there.
“There were little technical things that threw us off: We didn’t have a dedicated sink or trash can, but we adjusted to it. It’s all about working together as a team.”
Leadership and teamwork were integral in making the shakes at the Stanley Marketplace event – and they’re central to the Gina and Frank Day Leadership Academy that MSU Denver recently established, thanks to a generous gift from the legendary restaurateur.
“We help students come into their own role, both learning how to lead and support others,” said Rice, who led students from his food production and service class for the event.
“You can’t do this all on your own – you’ve got to have people backing you up when you’re working together to make sure an event like this goes off flawlessly.”
©Copyright 2019 by Metropolitan State University of Denver. All rights reserved.
MSU Denver Office of Marketing and Communications