On Thursday, May 3, the eighth annual Chef Showcase was held at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, to benefit programs of Rocky Mountain Health Care Services. The large-scale event features an impressive list of local restaurants and gives guests the opportunity to vote for their favorite dish.

RMFR attends the high-energy gala and tastes our way around the sprawling venue to chat up some of the participating chefs and discover their culinary approach to the philanthropic, high-volume competition.

The 8th annual Chef Showcase accommodates over 700 guests. Photo credit: Devin Richter, Sun Chaser Studios

We begin at 503W, known for their craft cocktails and Asian-fusion eats, who stays true to form with a nitro braised short rib in a sambal hoisin sauce, toasted sesame seeds and orange zest with a Korean salad made of Sriracha-lychee slaw, peanuts, tobiko and green onions.

“The inspiration is country life in Hawaii,” says Emillio Ortiz, owner of 503W. “Lots of fresh vegetables and fruits with spice and sweet, tangy protein.”

A shooter of yuzu lemonade offers sweet and tart compliments to the savory, pickled components of 503W’s dish. Photo credit: Devin Richter, Sun Chaser Studios

Matt Richardson, president the American Culinary Federation Pikes Peak Chapter, and executive chef at Cheyenne Mountain Country Club, wins the most votes of the night with his light and spicy green chile and crab tempura. We find some solid heat from the fresh salsa verde aioli with pieces of plump, grilled corn in a Fresno chile salsa.

“I was inspired to accent the sweet notes of the crab with the spicy and almost grassy notes of the green chile,” says Richardson. “I wanted to give the guests something that was hot, crispy and fresh tasting.”

Richardson’s crab tempura, pictured bottom left, imparts impeccable texture and a flavorful kick that earns him the gold. Photo credit: Devin Richter, Sun Chaser Studios

Bobby Couch, chef/owner of Green Line Grill, surprises with layers of contrasting flavor combinations all wrapped up in a smoked duck sachet. A sprinkling of duck skin chicharrones creates a subtle crunch that leads into the flaky phyllo dough cradling a mixture of the aromatic bird, earthy red and golden beets, ginger and garlic. A cherry demi-glace and lemon curd sauce finish the dish with a sweet and faintly acidic accent.

“We wanted to go classic but do something gamey and fun,” says Couch.

Couch offers a whimsical deviation from Green Line’s signature burgers. Photo credit: Devin Richter, Sun Chaser Studios

Jeff Fryer, executive chef at Alchemy wows with a dish of an entirely different temperature with his Hendrick’s Gin and beet cured Scottish salmon. The tender piece of fish rests on a tarragon chèvre stuffed crepe garnished with a slice of pickled watermelon radish and cucumber caviar.

“It’s a slightly different interpretation of our lox sandwich on our current menu,” says Fryer. “It represents spring flavors and textures and the complexity of each element of the dish showcases our skills.”

Fryer greets guests with a grin as he constructs his creative spin-off. Photo credit: Devin Richter, Sun Chaser Studios

Mark LeFebvre, executive chef at Cerberus Brewing Company, presents a memorable duo with duck confit on a savory waffle with lemon chèvre, a foie gras emulsion and dill alongside a mini capicola and brie sandwich on brioche with quince paste, sorrel and fresh apples. Both bites are rich and satisfying and aesthetically LeFebvre’s dish stands out in classy, canoe-shaped, bamboo serving vessels.

LeFebvre says his decision to deviate from the typical presentation was an intentional, sustainable choice. Photo credit: Devin Richter, Sun Chaser Studios

Kate Doncilovic, executive chef at Ivywild School, provides a a smartly executed bruschetta with the seemingly most popular ingredient of the evening, chèvre. A generous spread of goat cheese is topped with tomato, grilled summer squash and a balsamic drizzle that evokes seasonality and proves to be a manageable finger food in the energetic lines.

We see ourselves attempting to recreate this simple and current dish for an upcoming summer barbecue with friends. Photo credit: Devin Richter, Sun Chaser Studios

We travel upstairs to find a long table of desserts and pastries with made-to-order coffee drinks available from Ryan Wanner, owner of R&R Coffee Cafe and Golden Pines Coffee Roasters. There, we locate a serene pocket near the balcony that serves as an inspiring angle to watch the chefs work and a birds eye view of the impressive crowd.

Tiers of sweets top the upper deck. Photo credit: Devin Richter, Sun Chaser Studios

“The eighth annual Chef Showcase was hugely successful,” says Dana Speed, marketing coordinator for Rocky Mountain Health Care Services. “The event features seasoned and up-and-coming chefs who provide a variety of food options to choose from. Our event is unlike any other fundraiser in the community.”

*Header image courtesy of Devin Richter, Sun Chaser Studios