Chefs ready, grilling, able

Column by Penny Parker


Fifteen Denver-area chefs were fired up June 12 to compete for top slider honors during the fifth annual Hot Rocks Griller Challenge at Elway's Cherry Creek, a benefit for the Denver Health Foundation.

Roughly 1,000 attendees scarfed down sliders made from between-the-bun ingredients that varied from wild boar (Elise Wiggins, Panzano) to country ham with pickled green tomato (Jennifer Jasinski, Rioja, Bistro Vendome, Euclid Hall) to grilled watermelon (Paul Reilly, Beast + Bottle).

The winners of the slider smackdown were determined by popular vote as well as chefs' choice.

People's choice:

First — Tyler Wiard and Aniedra Nichols of Elway's Cherry Creek.

Second — Troy Guard of TAG, TAG Raw Bar and TAG Burger Bar.

Third — Steve Ballas of Steve's Snappin' Dogs.

Chefs' choice:

First — Troy Guard.

Second — Max MacKissock of Squeaky Bean.

Third — Jennifer Jasinski of Rioja, Bistro Vendome and Euclid Hall.

Worth noting: I've attended all five Hot Rocks events, and this year the chefs kicked it up a notch on the side dishes that accompanied the sliders.

Standouts included Guard's five-grain salad, Robert Bogart's (Elway's Downtown) potato and black bean salad (I heard one slider slurper say, “I wish I could buy that stuff!”), Reilly's braised collard greens and Jasinski's mixed melon salad.

Hollywood transforms Denver

Did the Paramount Theatre, downtown Denver's historical performance center, change its name to Paramount New York? It did for one day.

On June 12, Hollywood moved east to the Mile High City to shoot the feature film “Dear Eleanor,” starring Jessica Alba, Luke Wilson, Paul Johansson, Ione Skye, Patrick Schwarzenegger and Isabelle Fuhrman.

The production caused quite a stir among downtown workers and passersby who spotted the new name on the marquee as well as all the vintage automobiles parked along Glenarm Place.

The storyline follows two best friends who travel cross-country in the 1960s to meet Eleanor Roosevelt, their childhood hero.

Other Denver venues playing cameo roles in the movie are LoDo and the Mayan Theater. One local notable who landed a part in the film is Rekha Ohal, the exotic and lovely piano player who is a regular at Elway's Cherry Creek.

Ohal posted on her Facebook page: “My gig today: playing the part of a piano player in 1962 for a movie that's being filmed in Denver. At least I know how to play the piano! The rest I'll have to figure out as I go along.”

For more details on the Denver-centric movie, go to

Rockin' Fridays

Shanahan's, the popular steak place in the Denver Tech Center, launches its concert Rockin' Fridays On the Patio on July 5.

Here's the lineup: July 5, Phatt Daddy; July 12, Mary Louise Lee; July 19, Hot Lunch; July 26, Dotsero; Aug. 2, Funkiphino; Aug. 9, Tunisia; Aug. 16, Moderators; Aug. 23, Thumpin; and Aug. 30, The Spin. Music plays from 6 to 10 p.m.

The concert menu features a three-course $110 dinner for two, and hand-crafted Stoli cocktails for $10. There's a $50 food and beverage minimum per person for all reserved patio seating.

Reservations: or by calling 303-770-7300.

Landmark hosts `Rollin' Dreams'

If you love cars and food (who doesn't?), the Rollin' Dreams Summer Festival is coming to the Landmark in Greenwood Village on June 22.

The Rollin' Dreams nonprofit organization and the DTC|Greenwood Village Chamber of Commerce are sponsoring the fundraiser. Proceeds benefit Rollin' Dreams, which was formed in honor of Austin Williams, a car enthusiast and student at ThunderRidge High School who battled Rhabdomyosarcoma cancer. Thanks to community support, Williams received his “dream car,” a 1972 Chevy Chevelle, before his death in March. Austin's pristine Chevelle will be one of 200 spectacular cars on display from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Tickets are $10 (14 years and over), $5 (7-13) and kids under 6 are free. Purchase tickets at or call 303-290-9922.

Tickets include access to sample food, micro-brews and beverages from some of Denver's top restaurants and micro-breweries.

“When we first were introduced to Austin and his family, we, like everybody, were inspired by the passion they had for cars and for helping other families,” said DTC|Greenwood Village Chamber CEO John Herbers. “The collection of cars and all of the fun activities at the Summer Festival will be a fantastic tribute to Austin and will celebrate his vision of using these incredible machines to benefit other young people going through what he did.”

Dancing the night away

Do you love dancing, like I do? Then Arvada Center is the place to be on June 27, when five Colorado dance companies perform at DanceFest at the facility at 6901 N. Wadsworth Blvd.

You'll enjoy the creative dance talents of 7dancers, Fiesta Colorado, Hannah Kahn Dance Company, Kim Robards Dance and Wonderbound. All five dance groups will perform in a finale.

For tickets or more information, visit DanceFest will begin at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $27 (premium covered); $17 (covered) and $10 (general admission, lawn seating).

Pork holds court

Beggin' for bacon?

Back for its third year, the Blue Ribbon Bacon Tour comes sizzling back to Keystone from 1 to 6 p.m. June 22 and 23.

Bacon lovers can pork out on pounds of bacon and bacon-inspired cuisine accompanied by free live music from Hamilton Loomis, the Steeldrivers and Hell's Belles.

Wash down the royal piggy with Bacon Bloody Marys or cucumber vodka ice tea. To quote the BRBT organizers, “Much like the Crusaders revolutionized the lives of Europeans by introducing a large variety of spices from the East, The Blue Ribbon Bacon Tour travels to places like Colorado to transform the lives of bacon lovers by introducing a variety of bacons and bacon-inspired dishes from around the world. Of course, we like to do all this while tossing back a few cold beers!”

For more information and to buy tickets, go to

Arvada bakery raises $10,570 for food bank

Rheinlander Bakery's 50th anniversary celebration and Bake Out Hunger campaign raised $10,570 to benefit the Arvada Community Food Bank. The four-day festivities (June 6-9) to commemorate the bakery's 50th anniversary earmarked 50 percent of its sales to the food bank and also held a series of special events that raised additional funds.

“We are thrilled to have had such a great turnout,” said Ed and Maro Dimmer, owners of Rheinlander Bakery. “On behalf of ourselves and our staff, we extend our gratitude to our community and everyone who supported us with their purchases and their contributions as well as all who provided us with assistance in planning and executing this event.”

Rheinlander Bakery will present a check to the Arvada Community Food Bank during the Arvada City Council meeting at 6 p.m. on August 5.

Cima out, Maya in

Renowned chef Richard Sandoval, who heads an international restaurant empire which includes Tamayo, Zengo, Al Lado and La Sandia in Denver, repositioned his culinary presence at The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek Mountain, and recently opened Maya in place of the more upscale Cima.

Maya, a Modern Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar, is designed to bring a more upbeat casual dining experience than the more formal Cima.

Maya's menu features Sandoval's authentic Mexican flavors by blending traditional recipes with contemporary touches. Fresh ingredients will be plucked from the restaurant's on-site garden.

The menu features four types of guacamole made table -ide, mahi mahi ceviche queso fundido and chicken flautas. Chef's specials include lobster and shrimp Yucatan. Colorado bass, carne asada and pork carnitas.

For more information, go to


Eavesdropping on one woman to another at Hot Rocks Grillers: “You can't eat, you can't drink — what are you doing here?”

Penny Parker's “Mile High Life” column gives insights into the best events, restaurants, businesses, parties and people throughout the metro area. Parker also writes for You can subscribe and read her columns (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) at Send her Mile High Life column tips and eavesdroppings at or at 303-619-5209.