Slow Food Nations take over downtown Denver

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Slow Food Nations is commandeering Larimer Square and Union Station in Denver through the weekend to share the grass roots effort and bring “a festival to taste and explore a world of good, clean and fair food for all.” The event is inspired by the original gathering that takes place in Turin, Italy which showcases a taste marketplace, academic talks, live music and cooking demonstrations.

“As a former restaurant owner, I was in the middle of Denver’s collaborative food culture – it makes for great food and a connected food ecosystem,” says Governor John Hickenlooper, in a statement to Slow Food. “As Governor of Colorado, I am thrilled that Slow Food chose Denver for Slow Food Nations, which will be an annual event.  It’s such a big deal for us and I can’t think of a better place to bring people from all over the world to celebrate.”

Craig Johnson, member of the events committee for Slow Food Pikes Peak, steers the direction of the Southeast Colorado chapter. Johnson drops some knowledge on RMFR to share what Slow Food is all about and what we can expect from the festival.

“It’s good for a nation to get together and for us give people a chance to have alternatives when it comes to food,” says Johnson. “It started in the late 80’s early 90’s in Italy and is essentially about traditional food. We ask, how do we support people in the field and how can we give people access all across the country.”

Slow Food Nations runs through Sunday, July 16, with block parties and performances from musicians such as Jack Johnson. It serves as an over-arching celebration of Colorado farmers, ranchers, producers and chefs. Pairings will take place to highlight how our state is making good on our homegrown status and illustrate the synonymous efforts amongst our food and beverage industry.

“While New Orleans has Creole, Portland has food trucks and Chicago has modernist cuisine, it has long been pondered what the hallmark of Denver’s food scene is,” asks Paul Reilly, Denver chef and co-owner of Coperta and Beast & Bottle, in a statement to Slow Food. “In my opinion, Denver’s claim to fame should be community: chefs, bartenders, and restaurateurs working together to elevate the city’s cuisine. This camaraderie is not found in any other city in the U.S. and makes it the perfect choice to host Slow Food Nations 2017. Slow Food has always been about building community through food. What better city to showcase that than Denver?”

Poster

Corner Post Meats will be on hand with a plethora of other local vendors as exhibitors and to participate in select workshops. Dozens of specific events span the grid of foodie interests.

“They’re all over the map,” says Johnson. “From food sovereignty to pairings, to how to make natural cheese or ‘eat the whole animal‘.”

Navajo Nation chef Franco Lee prepares samples at a Slow Food summit in Denver in 2015. Photo courtesy Slow Food USA.

“The growth of craft beer, urban gardens, public markets, and the most collaborative restaurant scene in America makes Denver the ideal host,” says Richard McCarthy, executive director of Slow Food USA. “The open sky will incite open discussion and possibilities for the future of food.“

“This was the most experienced group within our organization nationally and they’ve stepped up and done a good job to make it a really fun experience,” says Johnson.

Past festivus at Rockledge Ranch. Photo courtesy of Bob MacDonald.

The Pikes Peak chapter will be present to share news about upcoming events like the Pueblo Chile & Frijoles Festival and Fiddles, Vittles and Vino at Rockledge Ranch. The Colorado Springs heritage site brings the history of farming to life with an interpretive agriculture program and will host dozens of restaurants and wine and spirit vendors on Saturday, July 30. Early bird tickets are available until July 23, for $45 and kids (13 years or younger) for $20. Doors open at 2:30 p.m.

“It’s a lovely chance to listen to Blue Grass and have some nibbles and support Rockledge Ranch.”

Johnson encourages residents to explore numerous organizations here that are attacking the same issues that Slow Food spearheads. The evergreen movement to provide connection and education is reiterated here at home by non-profit, Colorado Springs Food Rescue.

“If people are interested, we’ve got all kinds of organizations locally,” says Johnson. “There are so many good ways for people to be engaged in local food, supporting your restaurants, your farmers and spending some of your food dollars here.”