`Nightmares' for eateries

Column by Penny Parker


Gordon Ramsay, the chef who puts the terror into every restaurant owner, returns for a sixth season as he treks across the country to help struggling restaurants keep their businesses above water (and in some cases cockroaches, rats, etc).

When all seems to be in desperate despair, the restaurant owners turn to Ramsay and his team for one last hope before having to shut their doors. Many of these restaurants are beyond repair, leaving Ramsay to face a nearly impossible task. Some will close their doors, others will get back on their feet, but all are calling on Chef Ramsay to wake them up from their “Kitchen Nightmares,” airing at 7 p.m. Mondays on Fox 31.

You'll have chances to view local operations, after Ramsay's “Kitchen Nightmares” made two stops in the Denver metro area last month. The kitchen commander visited Pantaleone's on July 26 and Old Neighborhood in Arvada July 27-30. Be afraid, be very afraid!

The Old Neighborhood has been an Arvada institution since 1980, serving a diverse menu of American, Mexican, Italian, French, Asian and even Cajun-inspired foods. Owners Alexa and Randy Kowalczyk are sure to be in for a test from Ramsay when it comes to Old Neighborhood's gigantic menu.

Pantaleone's is a pizza and pasta restaurant at 2120 S. Holly in south Denver. Mr. On The Town and I visited Panteleone's 10 years ago or so for a story he was writing on Denver's best pizza and we left unimpressed. Still, many have raved about the pizza and pasta place owned by Pete and Paulette Fafalios.

Look for the episodes later this summer on Fox 31.

Best of luck to both restaurants!

American Ninja

Am I the only weirdo who watched “American Ninja” on 9News on July 22? Why? Because they filmed the segment in Denver a few blocks from my condo, but I knew nothing about it.

The host is Matt Iseman, a Denver native. Iseman even talked about how happy he was to be back in his hometown during the show. The show is entertaining in the fact that it's fiercely competitive while these folks compete in crazy stunts that defy all odds of gravity.

The show is continuing at 7 p.m. Mondays. Rich Grant, the spokesmodel for Visit Denver, told me that the crew filmed all through the night roughly five weeks ago.

The show was shot in Civic Center and really highlights downtown Denver in the dark.

Wicket games

Denver's premier croquet tournament returns to Cherry Creek on Aug. 2 when 60 teams compete on the outdoor plaza behind Elway's restaurant.

Up for grabs is the Wicket and Stick It silver cup or in the individual categories, which include best dressed, best hat and best wicket shot.

Professional croquet master Ron Eccles and his team of croquet referees will be on hand to provide instruction and insider tips. Prized categories include top three teams, best dressed team, best dressed male and female, best hat male and female and best wicket shot.

Players and spectators receive drink and food tickets for a variety of beverages to enjoy as well as morsels from restaurants including Brio Tuscan Grille, Opus Restaurant & Aria Wine Bar, California Pizza Kitchen, Kona Grill, Patxi's and a goody bag.

Tournament time is from 2 to 9 p.m. Aug. 2 at 2500 E. First Ave. General admission is $35 in advance or $40 at the door, which includes two drink tickets and a goody bag.

VIP spectator tickets are $60 in advance or $70 at the door. The ticket includes unlimited drinks, VIP check-in, exclusive seating, personal beverage service and a goody bag.

To reserve tickets, go to http://ezregister.com/events/7380/.

Just in from EaterDenver

TAG Burger Bar is in the planning stages of a second location in northwest Denver, bordering the Highland neighborhood. The casual burger joint led by chef Troy Guard now operates in Congress Park at 12th and Madison. A second location is planned in the former Subway Tavern & Pizzeria Longo's space at 38th and Lipan (3759 Lipan St.).

The Larimer Associates, which owns TAG Burger Bar, acquired the family-owned restaurant in September when Longo's closed its doors after 52 years in business. A massive remodel is planned for the 3,000-square-foot space starting early September. Considering the age of the restaurant and lack of upgrades in recent years, Larimer Associates decided to gut it and start over with a remodel project that will likely take six months.

Golf fun for charity

I have had the rare privilege of being asked to participate (a.k.a. play) in the Hyde Park Jewelers charity golf tournament for the 14 years that it's been in existence.

But the night preceding the tourney can be even more of a reunion between athletes and journalists who gathered on July 21 at Elway's Cherry Creek for an amazing dinner and event led by one of my favorite media personalities, Les Shapiro (host of radio and television).

Not only was the dinner amazing — I'm saying steak and crazy corn with guacamole and pepitas — but our lovely “Table 26” was filled with the might and right.

Game day

Because Les Shapiro is so good to me, I got to play as a “celebrity” fifth at Cherry Creek Country Club on Monday for the Hyde Park Jewelers Diamonds in the Rough golf tournament (presented by Rolex, where's mine?) to benefit Youth Biz, Judi's House and the Global Down syndrome.

My patient teammates were David Blake (from the Colorado state's attorney's office and son of Ernie Blake, a blessing to our Denver community for his fundraising efforts), who was the best stick in our fivesome. Also deserving kudos was Abby Perlmutter (daughter of Congressman Ed Perlmutter), who can hit a mile-long drive — not Ed, but Abby.

And rounding out our fivesome were brothers Gary and Steve Pettit, who own and run Starwest Productions out of Arvada. Check them out at: www.estarwest.com.

Any way you slice it, we had a blast!

Jackson needs some love

Here's a Facebook post from Tim Jackson, the head honcho at the Colorado Automotive Dealers Association, regarding his unfortunate bicycle encounter: “The Eagle has ... crashed. Misfortune! While in Newport. R.I., for biz meetings, I was going cycling early mornings. On Friday at 5:30 a.m. on a speedy downhill I hit loose gravel and took header into back of Honda Civic. Spent 12 hours in ... Emergency Room and Level 1 Trauma Center. Broke back, wrist, hand, finger, and wearing 2 braces and a cast for 2 mos. Made it back to (meetings) before flying home today. Trying to avoid breaking string of 28½ years w/o sick day! Touch and go here! “

1515 special event

Save the date for some awesome cuisine when 1515 Restaurant at 1515 Market St. hosts a series of “1515 Test Kitchen” dinners featuring sous vide techniques and molecular gastronomy beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 4.

The multi-course dinners, collaboration between 1515 chefs Jonas Halstead and Garren Teich, will take place the first Sunday of every month and include molecular cooking demonstrations as well as Q&A sessions with the chefs.

Seats are $55 per person or $95 with wine pairings. Reservations can be made by calling 303-571-0011.

Wedding bells

Wedding bells have been ringing overtime lately for two professional athletes who played for Colorado teams.

First player to the altar was Mitch Berger, former Broncos kicker and CU Boulder star athlete who married swimsuit model Bambi Lashell on July 13 in Vancouver, British Columbia. On July 20, former Avalanche defenseman John-Michael Liles scored the winning goal by wedding Erin Johnson in Vail.

Berger found his way to wedded bliss after Bravo TV's “Millionaire Matchmaker” Patti Stanger scored a touchdown for her team when she introduced the 16-year NFL punter to Lashell on Stanger's show in March.

The twosome's first date — horseback riding followed by Berger cooking Lashell dinner — was the spark that ignited the relationship. Stanger even mentioned the successful match last week on Andy Cohen's “Watch What Happens Live” (guess who was watching and taking notes?).

Stanger's blog on March 12 said this about her millionaire client who parlayed his NFL career into a career as a venture capitalist in Canada: “(Berger's) been on the road for so many years that he didn't really have time to grow up and have an actual mature, evolved relationship. We call that the Peter Pan syndrome. He settled down in Vancouver, and now he's ready for love, marriage and lots of babies.”

The Super Bowl-winning groom (playing for the victorious Pittsburgh Steelers in 2009) tweeted on his wedding day: “So happy that I married @BambiLashell the love of my life! pic.twitter.com/wzYLPrvXA5.” Some wedding photos of the happy couple also are posted on his Twitter account @mitchberger17.

Berger's lengthy football career — which took him to several different teams — ended after he signed with the Broncos during the last 10 games of the 2009 season, and he retired in 2010.

Liles, who was a popular figure on and off the ice when he played for the Avalanche starting in 2003, was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2011.

Several of his former teammates — including Paul Stastny and Matt Duchene — attended the nuptials. For a picture of the couple — sandwiched between Maple Leafs teammate Tyler Bozak — check out www.bluetoro.ca/tag/john-michael-liles-girlfriend/.

Supermarket showdown

The Food Network is holding a nationwide search for chefs and professional cooks for a chance to win up to $20,000 in a new television series.

Producers are looking for highly skilled chefs and professional cooks from all backgrounds and without regard to a particular style of cooking.

Whether you are an executive chef, sous chef, private chef or caterer and think you have the chops to slice and dice the competition, you may qualify.

This new series — from the producer's of Food Network's “The Great Food Truck Race” — will put talented chefs and professional cooks to the test in a supermarket-themed showdown. To navigate the aisles of this high-pressure competition, you're going to need clever cooking solutions as supermarket savvy.

To apply, email grocerygames@rrstaff.com. Include your city and state in the subject line, and in the body of the email include your name, phone number, photo, current occupation, a description of your culinary background and why you think you have what it takes to win.


Eavesdropping on a man talking about the dessert at the Elway's Cherry Creek dinner prior to the golf tournament: “It's a chocolate brick.”

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 Blacktie-Colorado.com. You can subscribe and read her columns (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) at www.pennyparker.blacktie-colorado.com. She can be reached at penny@blacktie-llc.com or at 303-619-5209.


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