Last call for tickets to Harvest Week, an annual fundraiser for EatDenver and GrowHaus

“(Harvest Week) is a way to connect with the whole circle of the food system,” says Giselle Díaz Campagna, executive director of The GrowHaus, a community-led nonprofit that works to make advancing food justice through access to food and education for well-being. She and the nonprofit EatDenver, which connects and empowers the local food and beverage community, will host their sixteenth annual Harvest Week fundraiser October 2-5 at Ironton Distillery and Crafthouse.

“What happens to our food before and after the plate is part of a cycle. Restaurants are part of this story. Food redistribution is part of this story, but so are farms. (Harvest Week) guests directly support this interconnected food system,” says Kristen Rauch, executive director of EatDenver.

She explains that each evening will include past starters and five elevated dishes served family style. The dishes are created by EatDenver members, all of whom are independently owned and operated restaurants in Colorado.

Rauch says the Harvest Week lineup includes many past participants, such as the 100% employee-owned Edible Beats hospitality group. “We are truly honored to be a part of it,” says Joy Williams-Clark, Head of Operations at Edible Beats.

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At least one locally or regionally sourced ingredient must appear in each dish.

Nikki A Rae Photography

Restaurants were also selected from lists like Western word‘s Best of Denver and the recently announced Colorado Michelin Guide, featuring chefs from venues including Dio Mio, Noisette, Tavernetta, Bistro Vendôme, Molotov Kitschen and Lucina Eatery and Bar.

“We’re always looking for unique people in the culinary scene who are highly talked about and who we think our guests would be excited to see there,” says Rauch. Each evening is limited to 130 seats, and Wednesday and Thursday evening tickets are already sold out. But Monday and Tuesday attendees also have something to look forward to.

“We give chefs a lot of flexibility with their menu items,” Rauch notes. “The only qualifier is they have to source at least one ingredient from Colorado. You have chefs who try to make their entire menu from local or regional produce.

She teases Monday night’s menu by saying, “Mrs. Betty’s Cooking opens the event.” Chef Tajahi Cooke prepares a royal oyster puree with black garlic. It’s an ode to mushrooms (with) roasted king mushrooms, marinated criminis and shiitake dust. Classes from Steuben’s, River and Woods, Jax Fish House, Bodega Denver and Ace Eat Serve will follow.

Tuesday is the vegetarian evening, which starts with starters from El Five. “Chief Corey Ferguson is taking the applications course. We (give) a nod to the pinchos by serving a mushroom crujientes which is a small, crunchy Middle Eastern pastry with a black garlic sofrito and a sherry gastric. We prepare a tomato tartoletta with marinated peppers, eggplant, crispy garlic and crème fraîche. Also, a queso leonora with Espelette peppers, peach jam and marcona almonds,” says Williams-Clark.

Click to enlarge Desserts on platters

All Harvest Week participants are independent, Colorado-owned restaurants.

Nikki A Rae Photography

“There are so many local partnerships around these dishes. We use Carbon Culture mushrooms, a small local mushroom company. We use Community Table, as well as Spin Farms. We also have our own small hydroponic farm, Beat Box Farms, and we will be using lots of greens and garnishes,” continues Willliams-Clark.

She adds, “Chef Kyle Luce of Vital Root prepares red wine-braised fennel with mushroom duxelles, celeriac puree and fall succotash. In this dish, he features wine from Holy Cross Abbey Cellar, mushroom company Carbon Culture, Petrocco Farms and Beat Box. Classes from Lucina Eatery and Bar, Lady in the Wild, Dio Mio and Ironton Distillery and Crafthouse round out the Tuesday evening menu.

Rauch comments, “Because the event truly celebrates Colorado’s fall bounty, we also want to recognize the farmers and lands we source from: 1% of all ticket sales will be redistributed to the planet. We’re working with Zero Foodprint, which is redistributing funds through a Colorado-based grant to regenerative agriculture and healthy soil projects across the state. All other profits and donations benefit EatDenver and GrowHaus equally.

EatDenver addresses the industry’s evolving operational and financial challenges through a range of programs. Rauch explains: “We facilitate professional development opportunities. EatDenver hosts monthly industrial training programs. We do ED Talks, which is our version of TED Talks, but designed for the hospitality industry. We drive industry collaboration through a digital membership platform. We host quarterly networking events and our signature events, such as Harvest Week and Big Eat.

The organization has particularly developed its advocacy activity since the start of COVID-19. At the local and statewide level, EatDenver has acted as “a voice for the needs and values ​​of an inclusive and equitable food and beverage community,” notes Rauch.

Click to enlarge Chefs prepare for Harvest Week

Chefs and restaurant teams who participated in last year’s Harvest Week event.

Nikki A Rae Photography

She adds that restaurateurs, owners and others in the industry have not yet recovered from the effects of the pandemic. “It’s not just the operational challenges that have always existed, but also the increase in labor costs, the increase in the price of goods and the increase in rents. Denver has the highest inflation rate in the country,” she said.

Díaz Campagna says the communities GrowHaus serves are also struggling in today’s economy – even more so than during COVID. She cites a statistic from Hunger Free Colorado: 33 percent of Coloradans struggle to access nutritious foods.

“We are seeing more and more families (who) need urgent food assistance. Globeville and Elyria-Swansea, where the GrowHaus began, remains an area of ​​interest because it is one of Denver’s oldest food deserts. These communities have suffered from food insecurity for generations.

She adds that GrowHaus also serves other communities with free meals through partnerships with the Boys & Girls Clubs, the Denver Public Library and other similar organizations. Additionally, GrowHaus offers a paid weekly food box subscription program to the general public in the Denver metro area, which supports local farmers and businesses, as well as the nonprofit’s overall mission.

“Once we close the gap in access to food, we can then invite (community members) to take a break. Let’s stay in touch with our children around the table,” says Díaz Campagna. She explains that the GrowHaus hosts multi-generational programs that focus on the connection between food and culture.

One such program, Abejitas, allows young children and their guardians to create salads, cook vegetables and plant gardens. The GrowHaus also cultivates leadership through its Seed2Seed program, which educates teens about food justice. Some participants are now program facilitators and part-time employees.

“It’s important for people to take action when they can – to connect with these organizations and with independent restaurants,” notes Díaz Campagna. “Supporting this work is another way to ensure everyone is fed. I think this is an important fundamental right that we all have.

Díaz Campagna concludes: “Sometimes we are so busy that we don’t understand that other families are suffering. We need to lift our heads and see how we can help.

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