The Big Stir Festival Celebrates the Women Leading Denver’s Culinary Scene

On April 23, the Colorado Chapter of Dames d’Escoffier International will hold its inaugural festival showcasing some of Denver’s most influential female chefs, business owners and culinary minds. The Big Stir will feature 25 tasting tables with bites and samples from previous Dames d’Escoffier Award winners like Ginger and Baker out of Fort Collins and sponsors like Chandon. Hosted in Denver’s historic Tivoli Center the event strives to show off some of the pillars of Denver’s food scene and shine a light on prominent women who make the city what it is today.

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The Dames have put together a one of a kind afternoon with seminars bringing an eclectic group of speakers including sommelier Maia Parish on Exploring Single Varietal Champagne Grapes, Valerie Alvarado from Pernod Ricard discussing tequila and mezcal, and James Beard Award winner Adrian Miller on the history of African American women in BBQ. These talks will give ticket holders a chance to learn from industry pros between food and liquor tastings and unique offerings.  The Bottles Under Wraps bottle raffle will see fine wine and spirits raffled off blind, each bottle kept under wraps until after the winner is declared. The event will also have a Book Nook presented by BookBar owner Nicole Sullivan to add a literary twist to diner’s culinary adventure.

President Megan Bucholz aims to raise the profile of Dames d’Escoffier’s Colorado chapter to shine a spotlight on the women who shape Colorado’s food scene and to provide scholarships for women looking to make an impact in the food and hospitality industry. As part of its ongoing mission, Les Dames d’Escoffier International Colorado Chapter has awarded more than $20,000 in scholarship dollars to aspiring female culinary professionals over the last decade and has ambitions to grow well beyond that. Organizing the event has been a labor of love for the Dames and many of the tasting tables and sponsors were found organically.

“There is a dynamic mix of Dames in our group, so we cast a wide net with people we know and ended up getting a great response,” said Bucholz.

Along with serving food and bestowing scholarships, the organization also gives out its annual Les Dames d’Escoffier Colorado Leadership Award winners. This year’s leaders include Denver staples like Fathima Dickerson of the Welton Street Cafe, Sally A. Herbert of Altius Farms and Jolene Collins of Jojo’s Sriracha.

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The Leadership Awards seek to recognize the inspirational women doing in the Colorado culinary world outside of the spotlight who embody the spirit of diversity, philanthropy, community building and education that drives Les Dames d’Escoffier’s mission. While most attendees are no doubt excited to learn from these inspirational figures, they are also undeniably showing up for the food. Moët will be located right next to the Brown Palace’s table serving pairings of champagne and finger sandwiches among other local chefs and restaurants looking to show off for the illustrious list of community leaders, restaurateurs and foodies participating in and sponsoring the event.

“The wines are going to be really good, the spirits are going to be really good… everything will be good!” said Bucholz.

The Big Stir is set to be an exuberant culinary celebration of the many women who make Denver’s food scene what it is today.

The Big Stir runs from 1pm-5pm on April 23. Tickets are $45-$55 and can be bought here.

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