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Silt’s chili cook-off heats up Friday

When the new Silt Branch Library opened in 2012, the plaza between it and town hall quickly became a coveted community space.

“It just seemed like we should have events there,” Janet Aluise, town of Silt community development director, said. “One of our staff members said that she had been to a chili cook-off in another locale and mentioned it about eight-years-ago so we got to work planning it, and it’s been going strong ever since.”

This year’s chili cook-off, put on by the town of Silt, will take place Friday, Nov. 1 from 5-8 p.m. in the town hall/library plaza.

Several participants from Silt and neighboring communities will each prepare at least three gallons of red or green chili for attendees to sample.

“It’s not a tremendously serious competition, but there is some seriously good chili at the plaza,” Aluise said.

As of Thursday morning, Aluise said 10 chili cook-off competitors had signed up for Friday’s event but expected a few more entrants.

“We fill the plaza and sometimes it’s just packed,” Aluise said. “Other times it’s just a great event with a couple hundred people.”

Tasting fees are $7 for adults, $4 for kids between the ages of six and 17 and $4 for adults 62 and over. Additionally, chili cookers pay an entry fee of $20.

Fees allow attendees to sample both red and green chilis.
The event offers free coffee, water and hot chocolate as well as beer for purchase.

Local Girl Scout Troop 244 will offer baked goods for sale as part of its fundraising efforts, too.

“Any nonprofit gets to enter for free because that’s the least we can do for our nonprofits,” Aluise said. “Most every year we’ve had the Girl Scouts making chili or putting on a bake sale and it’s nice because it allows the community to see how hard these girls work.”

This year’s chili cook-off will also feature a DJ courtesy of Two Rivers Productions as well as a kids’ tent equipped with foosball, table tennis, basketball and skee-ball.

“It’s just an area that the kids can escape to if they’re not into chili, which some kids aren’t,” Aluise said.

Aluise recalled one year when the temperature dipped to nearly zero degrees, however a couple hundred attendees still showed up for the annual chili cook-off.

“Having it as an outdoor event definitely gives it some flavor,” Aluise said.
One of this year’s chili cook-off competitors includes Silt resident, Lindsey Sidener.

“I hear the fire department puts out a really good chili every year, so we’ve got some stiff competition,” Sidener said.

Sidener planned on utilizing locally sourced vegetables from Peach Valley CSA Farm, local brisket and a few other secret ingredients for her red chili.
Six cash prizes will go to the top three red and green chili concoctions, as determined by a handful of judges.

“The prize for first place in each category is $175. Second place is $100 and third place is $50,” Aluise said. “We’ve had the whole gamut. We’ve had the young cookers come out, and they’ve never done an event before, and then we’ve had the people who are seasoned and have done several events.”
“It’s just a great social event.”

mabennett@postindependent.com

Glenwood Springs Arts Council’s 19th annual Culinary Arts Festival set for Friday at Hotel Colorado

Local art, live music and plenty of food and drink offerings.

This year’s Culinary Arts Festival presented by the Glenwood Springs Arts Council will feature all of that and more.

“It is just a very nice event,” Judy O’Donnell, Glenwood Springs Arts Council treasurer, said. “Everybody just has a really wonderful time.”

The 19th installment of the Culinary Arts Festival will occur from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Friday at the Hotel Colorado.

People have until noon Friday to purchase tickets online for $50. Tickets will be available at the door for $55.

O’Donnell expected a turnout of approximately 250 people and said that tickets were still available.

All proceeds, including those from the event’s silent auction, will go toward the nonprofit Glenwood Springs Arts Council.

“We have a lot of local artists who have donated work,” O’Donnell said of the silent auction items. “There are many things that are available.”

Other items include a weekend stay in Seattle as well as tickets to performances by the Sopris Theatre Company and Thunder River Theatre Company.

In addition to the silent auction, several local restaurants such as Masala & Curry, The Riviera Supper Club and Piano Bar, Smoke Modern BBQ, Uncle Pizza, The Pullman, Sundae, Ironbridge Grill and Sunshine & Moons will provide a variety of dishes.

“Food is an artistic expression,” O’Donnell said. “These people will be serving a special display of their food.”

To compliment the cuisine, Casey Brewing & Blending, Cooper Wine & Spirits, Glenwood Canyon Brewpub, Upslope Brewing and CTS Distributing will offer a wide selection of craft beer, wine and spirits.

“You won’t need to go out for dinner,” O’Donnell said.

Since 1982, the Glenwood Springs Arts Council has strived to create visibility, support and opportunity for the arts within the community.

Additionally, this year’s Culinary Arts Festival will feature live music from Carbondale’s own LET THEM ROAR.

According to the band’s website, LET THEM ROAR’s original music “weaves a tapestry of progressive-folk from threads of tradition.

mabennett@postindependent.com

EAT Bistro & Drinks in New Castle adding barroom expansion in 2020

Chef Molly Mogavero prepares fresh bread every morning before most people start on their first cup of coffee. 

“My day starts really early,” Mogavero, who co-owns EAT Bistro & Drinks in New Castle with her husband Jeff Ellis, said. “It’s so important for me to provide a gathering space where people can just sit down and break bread.”

Since opening in September 2017, EAT Bistro & Drinks has served entrees that span the globe including blackened Alaskan halibut, homemade lasagna rollatini and even Philly cheese steak out of a building, which dates back to the late nineteenth century. 

“It was built in 1890 and it’s still standing today,” Mogavero said. 

However, with an indoor seating capacity of just 24, Mogavero and Ellis plan to add a 900-square-foot barroom to EAT Bistro & Drinks’ existing location at 316 W. Main St. 

Ellis, a professional architect, has doubled as the mom and pop eatery’s bartender since the restaurant’s inception.

Following a couple years of preparing customer favorites like the Cosmo Kramer out of a small space in the restaurant’s kitchen, the couple decided it was time to add a barroom.

“A lot of people, they come in and see the restaurant is full and they don’t want to wait,” Mogavero said. “We are expanding because we want to accommodate everybody.” 

The addition, which will practically double EAT Bistro & Drinks’ size, will include a bar and lounge area where patrons can enjoy craft cocktails, wine and beer.

“You’ll enter into the barroom and you’ll be able to walk through to the dining room area,” Ellis said. “We’ll be keeping the same ambiance and atmosphere but it’ll be a little bit more casual.” 

The new barroom, like the restaurant’s dining room, will not include TVs but instead provide a community gathering space where residents and tourists alike can converse over hot food and cold drinks.

“It’ll be a place to gather and have a really nice conversation,” Mogavero said. “Those things seem to get lost nowadays with modern technology.”  

Mogavero and Ellis hope to open EAT Bistro & Drinks’ new barroom in January 2020 and may start serving drinks a little earlier and stop later than the restaurant’s traditional hours.

EAT Bistro & Drinks serves dinner from 5-9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. 

“We’ve got the most amazing staff,” Mogavero said. “People feel like they are coming home when they come in to EAT.”

mabennett@postindependent.com  

Carbondale’s oldest festival, Potato Day, celebrates 110 years on Saturday

Celebrating over a century of tubers, Carbondale’s Potato Day celebration returns Saturday for the 110th installment with a “Ghosts of Potato Days Past” theme.

The town’s oldest festival, which began in the early 20th century, was a time for the community to come together following its annual potato harvest.

“All of the ranchers around here and farmers who grew potatoes, they lived in outlying areas,” Carbondale Historical Society President Sue Gray said.

“When everybody harvested their potatoes they would put them on their wagons and bring them into town to load into storage to later put on the trains.”

The ranchers and farmers also took the time to enjoy a picnic that included barbecued beef roasted in a pit — and plenty of potatoes.

“We are going to have barbecued beef that is provided by a local rancher, Nieslanik Beef, and we’ll have the potatoes that will be baked,” Gray said.

“There will be a vegetarian potato bar for those who don’t eat meat and there will be a little coleslaw and beans to go with that and some rolls.”

According to Gray, festivalgoers will consume nearly 300 pounds of russet and Yukon gold potatoes at this year’s Potato Day.

Proceeds from the $10 plate lunch will go to the Carbondale Historical Society.

“We were one of the biggest growers of potatoes in the United States back in the early 1900s,” Gray said. “We picked the theme, ‘Ghosts of Potato Days Past,’ so that we could educate some of our community members about how the town of Carbondale was formed and by whom.”

Beginning at 9 a.m. festivalgoers may enjoy a farmers and craft market in Sopris Park followed by the Potato Day parade, which kicks off at 10:30 a.m. The parade also doubles as the Roaring Fork High School homecoming parade.

The parade forms along Second Street and then travels down Main Street before concluding at Sopris Park.

Additionally, live music featuring local singer-songwriter Wes Engstrom will begin at 11:30 a.m. in Sopris Park. Pam and Dan Rosenthal will perform their brand of Americana beginning at 1 p.m. and Tami Suby and numerous local student musicians will conclude the Potato Day live music schedule with a performance slated to begin at 2 p.m.

“It’s one of my favorite events of the year,” Gray said. “Just like in the old days when it was first celebrated, it’s a chance for me to see all of my friends and neighbors and have a big party together.”

The Potato Day festival ends at 3 p.m.

mabennett@postindependent.com

Native Son soars back after prolonged closure

With the help of search and rescue, both figuratively and literally speaking, Glenwood Springs’ Native Son has risen again.

The tapas bar, owned by Glenwood native Ricky Rodriguez, originally opened its doors in April. But when the local business lost its liquor license earlier this summer over a code violation that resulted in an extended closure, staying afloat proved challenging.

“We had to hustle into doing all kinds of different [catering] events from Eagle to, of course, the Roaring Fork Valley, and it was really good because it just showed the people that stayed with me how resilient they were and how resilient we became together to keep the brand alive,” Rodriguez said.

Alive and healthy, like the establishment’s Kombucha on tap, Native Son has reopened with the help of friend and search and rescue pilot Jack Montou.

The pilot, who flies for Classic Air Medical, and Rodriguez first crossed paths at a local gym where the two developed a close friendship. However, little did they know their coordinates would eventually land them as business partners.

“I’ve been flying for about 12 years,” Montou said. “I went to flight school, all civilian trained, and after that my dream was to do search and rescue work, and I think the most challenging terrain in the United States has to be right here in the heart of Colorado going over the Rocky Mountains.

“It’s challenging, but it’s definitely very rewarding, and I couldn’t beat it as far as a career goes,” Montou said.

While Montou flies in the front of the cockpit, he wanted Rodriguez to still ride shotgun at Native Son.

“I said, ‘I want this to be your baby,’” Montou said he told Rodriguez.

Native Son offers tapas plates, local libations and weekly entertainment in its Vegas-esque yet family-friendly atmosphere.

The revamped tapas menu offers everything from a cheese board comprising an artisan cheese trio, honey infused walnut, pepperoncini salsa and wild berry jam. One of Rodriguez’s personal favorite dishes is the pulled pork quesadilla featuring queso asadero cheese, tomatillo peach salsa and avocado crema.

“It’s a whole new tapas menu,” Rodriguez said. “It’s all local.”

Being a native, Rodriguez wanted Native Son’s menu to also showcase local gems.

Palisade fruit graces Native Son’s tapas menu while two nitro coffees, two mates, four Kombucha taps and an assortment of craft beer blesses its beverage selection.

“The entertainment is coming back too,” Rodriguez said. “We’ll be getting more live music in, and of course we have our DJs.

“We’re actually scheduling every night into more of a theme night. Wednesday we are going to be doing karaoke, and on Thursdays we are going to be doing a ladies night, where you buy a tapa and you get a glass of sangria on the house.”

With the layover now over, Native Son expects to be open Tuesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. until midnight.

“[Rodriguez] sometimes, I think is misunderstood because he has his tattoos and haircut,” Montou says with a laugh. “Anyone who really knows him, and he does know a lot of people in town, will tell you he’s just the sweetest guy with a heart of gold.”

After reaching cruising altitude, Rodriguez said Native Son will serve brunch on Saturday and Sunday before making it a permanent, daily installment.

“Jack definitely came in and saved the day,” Rodriguez said. “The whole vision that we have, it’s like we’re sitting on a gold mine.”