On Wednesday, June 7, a tornado touched down at Miller Farms — a community staple located in Platteville, a little over an hour outside of Denver proper. The twister meandered through the field, upturning a row of produce, picking up a corn combine and flinging a semi-trailer into a nearby patch of trees. Fortunately, it stopped short of the farmhouse, though only by just shy of a quarter-mile. Even so, the Miller family, who have been tending the land since 1949, could not continue business as usual.
Chef Tajahi Cooke — who has been an integral part of uplifting the Denver community through a range of food-focused events and charities — knows a thing or two about what business as usual looks like for the Millers. He’s been connected with them for a while, seeing that he and his wife Danielle share a similar sense of the importance of providing for others as the Colorado family. In 2019, Miller Farms donated close to 200,000 pounds of food to those in need — across a range of causes including Veterans in Cheyenne, Denver Rescue Mission, Lutheran ministries, Boulder County Food Pantry, Weld Food Bank, and a variety of churches, schools and girl scout troops — and provided a good deal of the produce for many of the events the Cookes curated in 2020. Not to mention, the farm facilitated a massive undertaking of local deliveries, making sure none of their neighbors, near or far, would be going hungry during the pandemic. “We’re always growing and donating,” said Melissa Miller, a member of the clan’s third generation who continues to operate the site.
So when the Millers found themselves in trouble, Tajahi started to plan a barbecue. On Sunday, July 4, the team will host an event right on the property — featuring cooking from Tajahi’s Ms. Betty’s Cooking and his long-time sous Josh Pindelle-Ridgeway’s Smoke and Roll BBQ — in the interest of raising money and bringing a bit of cheer.
The day’s menu includes jerk brown sugar rubbed chicken, house-cured corned beef sausage — which Tajahi and Pindelle-Ridgeway plan to cook low and slow on a custom Traeger rig for 17 – 20 hours — pulled pork with brown butter honey glaze, sliced brisket, fried cheese polenta, mac and cheese and classic slaw. In addition, Miller Farms will keep its market stand open, giving community members a chance to purchase some of the ingredients that will be incorporated in the meal. A silent auction — featuring private experiences from both of the involved chefs, a 20-week agriculture farm-to-doorstep delivery and a whiskey package will also be there to sweeten an already sweet deal. The team is planning for up to 150 guests, making the event a delicious way to celebrate the Fourth.
Whatever the outcome, the team is excited to celebrate Miller Farms and its over seven decades of community commitment. “Sometimes you get to give individuals their roses while they’re still here,” smiled Tajahi.