The Seven Best Events on Denver’s Culinary Calendar This Week

QQue Championship BBQ turns two this week.
Shane Ray won’t be the only guest of honor at Rays Awareness Steak and Seafood Dinner.

Monday, November 6
There’s no question the Broncos are struggling through a painful season. So take a break from thinking about the team’s disappointing performance and concentrate on something that makes everyone feel good: raising money for a good cause at Shane Ray’s Rays Awareness Steak and Seafood Dinner on Monday, November 6, at Ocean Prime, 1465 Larimer Street. The offensive lineman’s philanthropic foundation will be the beneficiary of ticket sales; you will be the beneficiary of mingling with Broncos players and coaches as well as a luxe surf and turf dinner from the upscale (very upscale) crab shack. Normally we’d advise against armchair quarterbacking to the quarterback’s face, but in this case it can’t hurt, right? Tickets are a pricey $275 but involve much seeing and being seen; they are available at 56shaneray.com.

Chef John Tesar of Knife Dallas and Element Kitchen & Cocktail became friends with Justin Brunson, owner of Old Major, after working together at many culinary events nationwide. So Brunson is throwing Tesar a party to celebrate his sixtieth birthday — and you’re invited. Join the fun on Monday, November 6, at Old Major (3316 Tejon Street), where a few of the two chefs’ other colleagues, including Sheldon Simeon of Tin Roof Maui and Billy Durney of Brooklyn’s Hometown BBQ, will present a diverse spread of good eats for $55 per person, with an optional drink pairing for $45. Call the restaurant at 720-420-0622 or visit the Old Major website for a required reservation for the party, which takes place from 5 to 10 p.m.

Focus on the sexy interior at El Five and you might even forget you have insect legs stuck in your teeth.

Danielle Lirette

Tuesday, November 7
What’s a bug or two among friends? In some cultures, folks eat ’em like candy or potato chips or garnish exotic dishes with fried crickets and toasted larvae like they’re merely oddly shaped croutons. Want to face your fears and find your way aboard the edible-insect bandwagon? The Butterfly’s Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast can help. A prix fixe bug banquet hosted by El Five Denver, 2930 Umatilla Street, pairs the recipes of bug chef David George Gordon, author of The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook, with farm-raised ingredients from Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch, so it can’t be all that bad, can it? Chow down on bug-based cuisine from five continents with paired beverages from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 7, at the trendy El Five; admission is $80 to $90 at eventbrite.com (no door sales) and benefits Farms for Orphans Inc.’s orphanage/insect farm project in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ant(e) up another $10, and you’ll also get a signed copy of the cookbook.

The starry interior of Otra Vez is the perfect spot to sip tequila this week.

Wednesday, November 8
You took shots of it in college (or, hell, maybe just the other night), but you may have yet to discover tequila’s nuances — its peppery, smoky undertones, its sip-ability. Familiarize yourself at Otra Vez Cantina’s Tequila Dinner, a three-course meal paired with Herradura tequila starting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, November 8. Herradura Reposado, Añejo and Ultra will be paired with dishes like Aztec soup, a morita-pepper tomato broth with chicken, tequila-glazed flank steak, and strawberry margarita cheesecake. Is your mouth watering yet? Tickets are $65 at ticketfly.com. Find out more about the event and Otra Vez, 610 16th Street, at the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Celebrate GQue’s birthday with a free pulled-pork sandwich.

Thursday, November 9
We’ve written about GQue Championship BBQ often; it’s consistently been one of our top Denver joints to smoke it up since its doors opened a couple of years ago. And on Thursday, November 9, the restaurant is entering its not-so-terrible twos and giving away pulled-pork sandwiches to celebrate — no purchase required, though we definitely understand if you also want to load up on some of owner Jason Ganahl’s excellent brisket, ribs or, well, pretty much anything else while you’re there. Doors to the eatery, 5160 120th Avenue in Westminster, open at 11 a.m., and there are only 250 sandwiches to give away, so we recommend getting there early to pig out.

Make your own bowl at BD’s Mongolian Barbeque and make a difference for the families of fallen and disabled veterans. On Thursday, November 9, the busy build-a-bowl joint will be donating a portion of all dine-in proceeds to Folds of Honor, an organization that provides scholarships to spouses and children of U.S. military service members. In 2016, BD’s fundraiser contributed over $25,000, so stop by the restaurant, 1620 Wazee Street, between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m. to pile your plate high, sit a spell and and try to top last year’s numbers.

River and Woods is participating in Boulder’s First Bite.

Friday, November 10
Denver has its Restaurant Week every spring, but Boulder County has its own celebration of restaurants, giving customers a chance to dine for a discount for a full week every fall. Now in its twelfth year, First Bite runs from Friday, November 10, through Saturday, November 18, offering three-course dinners for just $29 per person at more than forty restaurants in Boulder, Longmont, Erie, Niwot, Lyons, Louisville and Lafayette. Make your reservations now, because dining rooms will fill up quickly at this price. See the First Bite website for a complete list of participating restaurants and menus.

Keep reading for more food and drink events beyond Friday…

A star of the 2017 National Western Stock Show (left).

Thursday, November 16
It seems that Christmas decorations are on the shelves earlier and earlier (we’ve even seen some for sale before Halloween this year), but what about the National Western Stock Show? This year you don’t have to wait until January to start planning your Stock Show experience. The First Annual Meat and Greet, benefiting Future Farmers of America, will take place at the National Western Complex, 4655 Humboldt Street, on Thursday, November 16, when guests will enjoy twelve courses of Colorado beef, pork, lamb and goat, an open bar, live music, and the chance to bid on a behind-the-scenes, one-on-one package with a Stock Show exhibitor. Find tickets ($75) and details at eventbrite.com.

Some of the 100 Men Who Cook at last year’s Black Tie Fundraiser.

Saturday, November 25
Saturday, November 25, is almost a month after Halloween, but die-hard fans of dressing up can still scratch that itch at the 100 Men Who Cook’s Black Tie Fundraiser, which has a masquerade ball theme this year. The organization’s mission is to raise money for grassroots nonprofits, and this year’s beneficiaries are Jazz C.A.F.E., a music and leadership program for middle and high school students; Boys’ Day, a mentoring program for young African-American boys; and Colorado Beautillion-Cotillion, a multicultural, inclusive academic and social-enrichment program for high school juniors and seniors. The Renaissance Denver Hotel, 3801 Quebec Street, will host the ball, which will include live music, dancing and, of course, food from the aforementioned "Gentlemen Chefs." Tickets range from $50 to $150 and are going fast at eventbrite.com.

Hosea Rosenberg of Blackbelly won Top Chef’s season five.

Thursday, December 7
It’s no secret that Bravo’s Top Chef came to Colorado to film its fifteenth season earlier this year. You can finally start planning your watch party, as the show will premiere on Thursday, December 7, at 8 p.m. The contestants traveled from Sports Authority Field to Telluride to Aspen Food + Wine and were tasked with preparing everything from the innocuous Denver omelet to the infamous Rocky Mountain oyster. Tune in to see how they fare — as well as to catch a glimpse of local legends (and a former winner!) Alex Seidel, Hosea Rosenberg, Jennifer Jasinski and Frank Bonanno.

Saturday, December 16
Put up the aluminum pole, brace yourself for the Airing of Grievances and start training for the Feats of Strength — it’s Festivus! And while traditional Festivus dinners involve covertly sipping from a flask while those around you look on soberly and disapprovingly, Denver Beer Festivus gives you the opportunity to celebrate the season with like-minded lushes. From 4 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, December 16, escape your family and join your real tribe at Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, 7711 East Academy Boulevard. Tickets will run you $40 to $65 and are already on sale at denverbeerfestivus.com. ’Tis the season!

See the Westword calendar for even more food and drink events, and if you know of a date that should be on this calendar, send information to cafe@westword.com.

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