Diary of a Grand Vintners Fundraiser Dinner

Bertrand Bouquin, Executive Chef of the Broadmoor Colorado Springs and Chef Paul Schutt of The University of Denver’s HRTM School Photo © 2008 by Christopher J Davies

Once a year, we produce the Grand Vintners Fundraiser Dinner, which is undoubtedly the highest profile event at the annual Denver International Wine Festival.

00% of the net proceeds all revenue generated from this evening will benefit the John S Davies Scholarship Endowment Fund. The scholarship is dedicated to the memory of my Father who was a talented Chef and Hospitality Manager. Dad died tragically at the age of 26 as the result of a car accident.

In it's second year, the John S Davies Scholarship Endowment will directly benefit students of the University of Denver's HRTM School. In 2007, Cristina N.Mariani-May, family proprietor of
Banfi Vintners, generously supported our first Grand Vintners Fundraiser

This year's wine sponsor was Silver Oak Cellars. David Duncan, the President of Silver Oak, is a graduate of DU. So he graciously agreed to provide his wine and himself for this year's dinner. With such a prestigious Napa Cult Cab maker on the roster, I thought it would appropriate to try to elevate the culinary offerings.

Chef Paul Schutt is the HRTM school's Executive Chef. His resume is filed with top haute Denver Restaurants such as Jax Fish House and The Capital Grille. I wondered if he would be open to permitting another chef to collaborate with him on this dinner? It was a touchy subject as I did not want to insult him. When I approached the school and him with this idea, I was surprised at their openness to the concept. Chef Paul, said it would not hurt his ego, in fact he thought that it might be fun!

My first choice was one of my favorite French chefs in the state,
Bertrand Bouquin, Executive Chef of the Broadmoor Colorado Springs. As Chef at The Broadmoor's Mobile 5 Star Summitt Restaurant, Bertrand has a very busy schedule. It was a long shot to ask him, but if he accepted, this could create a good buzz for the dinner. He replied that he liked the idea but needed approval from management.

After about a week of waiting Bertrand's boss, Craig Reed, The F&B Director at The Broadmoor gave his nod of approval! With 60 days to go, all we needed was to taste the wines and create the menu.

Chef Paul and Chef Bertrand met with me at The HRTM School in late August. At 12noon, we were tasting the four wines that Silver Oak Cellars sent us. Sniffing, swirling and tasting these delicious wines spurned a lot of menu ideas. How about Duck with this Merlot, I asked.

Bertrand replied yes...let's make a smoked duck with baby turnips and spinach. This was cool, after having attending attending several hundred Vintner's Dinners, I finally had a chance to put in my two cents on the menu creation!

It took us about an hour to taste the wines and create the preliminary menu. 5 delicious courses with 4 wines!

The Denver International Wine Festival
Grand Vintners Fundraiser, Wednesday October 29, 2008
John S Davies Scholarship Menu

Assortment of Passed Canapés
Covides Gran Gesta Cava Brut Reserve, Penedes Spain

Poached and Smoked Salmon Rillette with Spicy Pear Remoulade
Twomey, Pinot Noir, 2006 Russian River

Spiced Honey Glazed Roasted Duck breast,
Baby turnips and Spinach
Twomey, Merlot, 2005 Napa Valley

Braised Beef Short Ribs with Red Wine, Baby Carrot,
Parsley Mashed Potato
Silver Oak , Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004 Alexander Valley

Assortment of domestic and Imported Cheese
Dry fruit Chutney and Mâche Salad
Silver Oak , Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004 Alexander Valley

Guanaja Chocolate Tartlets with Cabernet Sauvignon Sorbet
Blueberry Coulis
Silver Oak , Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003 Napa Valley

Now that we had killer wines and a foodie lovers menu, we had all the ingredients for a successful Grand Vintner's Fundraiser Dinner, right? I believed so, but we had to make sales. Our capacity for the dinner was 150, so that meant 75 couples or fifteen tables of 10 guests each. With less then 60 days, we had some selling to do!

Check my blog soon for an entry about the actual dinner.


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