2019 Lineup Announced
Leigh Sullivan, a Denver restaurant consultant and promoter and the president of Sullivan Restaurant Group, started Denver FIVE, a collaboration of chefs and beverage heavyweights in 2008 as a way to spotlight Denver’s thriving culinary scene on a local and national level. Since its inception, the Denver FIVE has cooked at numerous fundraisers, the Aspen Food & Wine Classic and the prestigious James Beard House in New York City, where the FIVE has been invited to cook every single year of its existence.
This marks the 12th year of the Denver FIVE, which is now the Colorado FIVE, a name change that reflects a diverse and influential lineup of chefs and beverage luminaries that span the state. This year’s culinary team includes Jim Pittenger, chef-owner of Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs; alumnus Josh Niernberg, chef-owner of Bin 707, TacoParty and DinnerParty, all located in Grand Junction; alumnus Duane Walker, consulting chef of the Bid Red F Restaurant Group; alumnus Kevin Grossi, chef-owner of the Regional in Fort Collins; and Bryan Redniss, chef-owner of The Rose in Edwards. The beverage crew lineup comprises Jayme Henderson and Steve Steese, both of whom are co-founders of The Storm Cellar, a winery in Hotchkiss, Colorado, as well as Jen Mattioni, co-owner and bar manager of the Denver-based Q House.
“This year, we’re making a deliberate effort to expand our reach way beyond Denver,” says Sullivan. “It’s not just Denver that’s experiencing a restaurant boom, but the entire state, and it was important to me to spread the love and round out this year’s crop of chefs and beverage greats with folks that represent the whole of Colorado,” she adds, pointing out that areas like Grand Junction, the Vail Valley and Fort Collins are chock-full of restaurants that are adding momentum to the state’s restaurant climate. “I started FIVE to help Denver cement its rightful place as a food city and the result was beyond my wildest dreams. Twelve successful years later, I recognize the need to expand our reach throughout this beautiful state as a way to highlight all of the cool people doing cool things,” notes Sullivan.
“It’s an honor and a pleasure to be a part of a group that cares so deeply about the well being of Colorado’s culinary and beverage scene. To work and network alongside striving chefs, sommeliers, beverage pioneers and restaurant professionals across our great state—all of whom are working toward the same goal of unifying our food and beverage scene with an emphasis on better resources and availability—is extremely important to me, and I’m honored to be involved,” says Walker, whose sentiment is echoed by Neirnberg. “I’m incredibly proud to be included in this iconic group and to be a part of the evolution into a statewide network of chefs, sommeliers and restaurant professionals.”
In addition to a fresh lineup of culinary rock stars, Sullivan, for the first time, has also assembled an advisory board: “Little Rich” Schneider (tortilla savant at Raquelitas Tortillas); Zachary Johnson (owner of The Spice Guy); Mac Paranto (sustainability coordinator at Seattle Fish Co.); Darren Cuda (development manager at Sysco); and Elan Wenzel (owner of Element Knife Company). “Adding an advisory board is a big move for us,” says Sullivan. “I wanted people I trusted to help me stretch my original vision and move in a direction that would breathe new life into FIVE, create more opportunities to connect with the community and attract new sponsors and likeminded chefs who are as devoted as I am to ensuring that the state’s food scene continues to evolve and thrive and attract the attention it deserves.”