This week, EatDenver and The GrowHaus will come together to co-host the ninth annual Harvest Week – a five-night event full of collaboration and celebration. The week of festivities begins Sunday, October 7 and will reap the benefits of the summer’s work on Colorado’s farms and in Denver’s kitchens.
Each night will feature a handful of local chefs who will work together to create a five-course family-style meal for attendees. An open bar will showcase many Colorado breweries and distilleries, as well as a few of the state’s wineries, with nightly drink specials made by featured bartenders. Throughout the week, a Harvest Week exclusive “King of Carrots” saison from Ratio Beerworks and a peach cider from Stem Ciders will be available.
The idea for Harvest Week was born out of the desire to honor the state’s harvest and celebrate relationships between chef, farmer and eater. Started by EatDenver, Harvest Week has “grown in popularity and depth” each year, executive director Katie Lazor reported. This year tickets sold out in three short days, which proves the importance of such a celebratory event in the food-oriented city of Denver.
As the event expanded, The GrowHaus transitioned from host to equal contributor. The GrowHaus’ executive director, Kayla Birdsong, commented that “the partnership just organically sprung up. We’re able to bring our very different skill sets in, and really share so much across this amazing week.”
Showcasing Colorado’s Farming Regions
Guests dine in The GrowHaus’ old greenhouse space, surrounded by growing plants in the industrial neighborhood of Elyria-Swansea. The event is educational in all aspects, helping diners to discover new restaurants in the city while also realizing the lack of access to healthy food many Denverites face.
“Harvest Week brings in a lot of people who are really interested in food but who may not have been exposed to the fact that here in Denver, many of our communities struggle with hunger,” Birdsong commented.
The GrowHaus executive director also recognized that the people who attend Harvest Week “care so deeply about our local food system and healthy food, and quality food, and supporting our local restaurants. These are the same type of people who want to also support local communities in getting access to healthy food.” The week is an exposé of the city’s incredible food scene and the immense need for resources to support Denver’s community.
Following last year’s success, each night of this year’s event will boast produce from a different farming region in Colorado. Chefs must use at least one ingredient from their night’s specified region but are welcome to utilize ingredients beyond Colorado’s harvest.
“It’s really our honor to showcase the variety of farms in our state,” Lazor said. “Whether its a 100-year-old farm in southeast Colorado or a new innovative insect-farm in Denver.”
Lazor always looks forward to see what Chef Daniel Asher from River and Woods will create in The GrowHaus kitchen. Last year Asher challenged himself to use an ingredient from each region the event highlighted. “Everything in his dish was from Colorado,” except a few seasonings he couldn’t source from the state. “I’m excited to see how he challenges himself.”
Competitors Become Partners
Birdsong commented that though she is impressed by all the chefs throughout the week, “it’s less about one chef or one restaurant. The beauty of Harvest Week is that it is all these hot chefs and restaurants, but they come together and all six of the different restaurants are working in this tiny little kitchen together, and they actually help each other out.”
Outside of the celebratory week, the chefs are competitors. Harvest Week allows some of Denver’s most incredible chefs to challenge each other and inspire new dishes. “There’s one night where they’re all working together, and each other’s success is their success,” Birdsong shared.
Commencing the week on Sunday, chefs from Old Major, Citizen Rail, Osteria Marco, Flagstaff House, Corrida and Bistro Georgette will use produce from one of Colorado’s most diverse farming regions: Boulder County. Chefs from Snooze, River and Woods, The Butcher’s Bistro, Leña, Urban Farmer and Shamane’s Bake Shoppe will collaborate on Monday night for North Fork Valley Farm Night.
Arkansas Valley Farm Night on Tuesday will boast chefs from The Cooper Lounge, Bar Helix, French 75, Departure, FNG, Vesta and TAG. All of Denver’s vegetarians will rejoice on Wednesday when chefs from The Regional, Fruition and Mercantile, ChoLon, DBar, Mario’s Ocean Club, The Way Back and Hedge Row create a plant-based cuisine with produce from Denver’s own farms.
In the movement of reducing food waste, the week will culminate in Thursday night’s “Untapped” dinner. Chefs from Julep, Blackbelly Market, Bistro Vendôme, Acreage, Jax Fish House, Ace Eat Serve and El Five will make use of the leftover cuts of meat, fruits and vegetables from the week.
The event’s proceeds benefit both EatDenver and The GrowHaus. EatDenver is an independent restaurant network that promotes the value of independent dining in the city. They also provide a forum for independent restaurants in the area to support each other under the stress the food industry present.
The GrowHaus is a nonprofit indoor farm and marketplace. With three on-site farms – a hydroponic and aquaponic system as well as a mushroom farm – they distribute food to the surrounding area. The GrowHaus supplements their own produce with that from local farms to provide food at no cost, low cost, or regular cost, depending on the client’s capabilities.
In addition to food distribution, The GrowHaus focuses on education and working with the surrounding community to find solutions to the barriers they face in living a healthy life. The GrowHaus offers free tours on Friday and Saturday mornings at 10 a.m.
Tickets are $85 per night, including a cocktail hour, passed appetizers, optional tours of The GrowHaus, a seated five-course family-style dinner, and an open bar with beer, wine, and cocktails. Next year, you’ll have to act quick since tickets have already sold out. For more information about the Harvest Week, visit its website.
The GrowHaus is located at 4751 York Street, Denver.