Cultivating Sustainable Dishes at Denver’s Newest Hotel

Photo courtesy of Nephew

Opening this summer 2024, Populus, the latest endeavor by the Aparium Hotel Group, is the first carbon-positive hotel in Denver. Executive Chef Ian Wortham is introducing nature-based menus to the hotel’s two restaurants, Pasque – an all-day dining spot – and Stellar Jay – a vibrant rooftop terrace with stunning Rocky Mountain views.

Photo courtesy of Studio Gang

Collaborating once again, Chef Wortham and Populus’ Director of Food and Beverage, Curtis Landrum, are bringing their culinary and hospitality experience from the Frasca Hospitality Group and Denver’s Tavernetta to the restaurants. “Sustainability in this project is a way for us to contribute to the future of an industry that means so much to both of us. We hope to be a part of positive changes in hospitality that makes our profession more sustainable,” said Chef Wortham and Landrum. 

Aligning with Populus’s commitment to sequestering more carbon than it emits, guests will indulge while eliminating food waste, minimizing carbon output and repurposing organic materials. With technology from BioGreen360, Populus will be the first hotel in Denver to use “Food Cycling,” which puts all food waste into natural compost for local farmers instead of landfills.

The team is intentional when sourcing products for the restaurants, choosing from local and family-owned producers with pro-environmental impacts. Chef Wortham and Landrum say “Nature-based cuisine is the through line for all of our menus at both Pasque and Stellar Jay, and the goal is to show reverence for selections from both land and sea.”

Photo courtesy of Nephew

“Both concepts will be focused on knowledgeable, friendly and thoughtful service. Our goal is that guests are welcomed and cared for in a genuine way,” says chef Wortham and Landrum. “At Pasque, the ambiance is more sophisticated and warm, while at Stellar Jay it is more lively and enthusiastic.” Populus will also showcase a coffee bar, walk-up window, lounge, event spaces and a private dining room. 

On Populus’ forest floor, decorated with the theme of an Aspen grove, Pasque presents a warm ambiance with an invitation to gather and connect. Named after the Colorado-native purple Pasque wildflower, the interiors feature organic shapes, cozy spots and soft layers of light. 

Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks, Pasque continues the decorative theming into its thoughtfully seasonal dishes. With regionally sourced proteins and plant-based ingredients, the dishes will be paired with carefully crafted cocktails and a wine program. 

READ: New Downtown Denver Hotel Designs Mimic Colorado’s Natural Surroundings
Photo courtesy of Nephew

On the rooftop is Stellar Jay, a lively experience with live-fired cuisine and shared plates. While viewing the Rocky Mountains, enjoy cocktails with views of Denver’s downtown skyline and parks. Stellar Jay is a nod to the Steller Jay bird, which is symbiotic with Pasque flowers because they spread their seeds. 

As a vibrant and free-spirited social spot, just like the charisma of the bird, rejoice in bright greens and blues with a treetop canopy. Underneath the ever-changing seasonal tree, enjoy a menu designed for open-flame dishes — wild game, classic meats, fresh seafood and seasonal produce — with lively cocktails. 

Populus is located at 240 14th St., Denver. Opening summer 2024.

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