FIVE Colorado names new faces, recent ideas and totally different views for the 14th season of cooks

FIVE Colorado is Leigh Sullivan’s growing collection of chefs brightening up the local food industry with their unique approach to commerce. A Coloradan all life and a veteran of the restaurant industry, Sullivan was inspired by the talent and community that were built between the mountains. Understanding that Denver didn’t always get the same amount of attention as Los Angeles or New York, she put this program together to achieve Colorado’s best. This is how the FIVE flourished.

Originally, the identified chefs were brought to the James Beard House to bring their creative minds together for a glorious night of cooking. Now it is also part of sharing your talented talents with Coloradans. Together they will host a five-part dinner series in Denver that will highlight Coloradan cuisine as an amuse-bouche for headlining events – the Vail Wine & Food Festival and the Breckenridge Wine & Food Festival.

The latest is causing a stir as the community continues to stand strong against any issues that have arisen from the pandemic. It’s a well-thought-out mix of alumni and newcomers to the Denver food scene. They represent the hope for diversity, creativity and excitement for 2021.

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Arden Lewis – by Comal Kitchen Food Incubator – is invited for its sophomore year to mingle with other greats from Colorado. As an immigrant from Trinidad, he made his way through New York’s battlefield of kitchens. After honing his technique in New York, he came to Denver to explore a new business in Comal. Comal is known as the “food incubator” and is more than a daytime restaurant. It provides trainees with a migrant background with the knowledge of how to foster their culinary talents and develop entrepreneurial skills so that they can get going.

A humble mixture of curry and spices represents Tajahi Cookes first integration into the food scene, based on the flavors that touched his soul from the start. It pays homage to his grandmother’s story and tells her food journey from India to Jamaica. He worked in kitchens in the Denver area but has teamed up with an industry great – Frank Bonanno – to bring a monthly Supper Club series to French75. Here he teams up with fellow local chefs to create a one-night-only menu that explores each of their different backgrounds and similarities in Colorado.

Jacob Bickelhaupt comes from Chicago for the FIVE and not without controversy. The former Michelin-starred chef pleaded guilty to cracking down on his ex-wife and former business partner after an incident in 2017. Ever since he sobered up and moved to Denver, Bickelhaupt has expressed hope of getting past the incident and has since started an intimate pop-up food series, Konro, here in Mile High City. The pop-ups focus on upscale 12-course dining experiences that were only revealed 24 hours before to create an evening to remember.

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Natascha Hess broke into the Colorado food scene with her love of Asian culture. The Ginger Pig starts as a food truck and has a newly opened store in the Berkeley neighborhood of Denver. Even after you leave the street, your food is representative of the flavors your host family offered during their stay in China and the cultures they explored there. Her studies of Asian cuisine enable her to relive those times through eating and bringing new experiences to the people of Denver.

The final addition is another FIVE veteran, Josh Oakley of Avelina in downtown Denver. He currently lives in the city, having scoured mountain towns and absorbed everything that goes with Colorado’s food. Oakley is familiar with farm-to-table food and loves using local ingredients, from white vegetables to whole pigs. Although not originally from the state, his cuisine continues to epitomize the Coloradan spirit.

In addition to the FIVE chefs, Sullivan highlights three experts in the beverage industry. This season the beverage duo from Jayme Henderson and Steve Seese from Storm Cellar Winery is part of the team Jen Mattioni from Ash’kara rounds off the roaster.

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Colorado has been going strong for the past few years of 2020 and has partnered with this team of five chefs and three beverage industry experts to bring the fun and taste of Colorado back to life. With the community in mind, a portion of the proceeds from each diner will go to support local charities for Peppers Senior Dog Sanctuary and Firefly Autism.

The FÜNF are already working in the kitchen a month before their first appearance. Oakley will take the lead by taking the group to Avelina to begin their adventure.

Tickets and information for dinner on May 17th can be found here.

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