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It’s cool to keep the door closed

By Dave Buchanan
What if you had to fix dinner for a family of six without a refrigerator or stove or even a real kitchen? Now, imagine preparing a multi-course meal, complete with wine, five entrees, appetizers, mashed potato bar, cheese plates and desserts, for 300 under a tent at Riverbend Park. Those are among the challenges handled during the Colorado Mountain Winefest by Dan Kirby, Wayne Smith, Jon St. Peter and the rest of the staff and students of the Colorado Culinary Academy. “”Whenever you serve food outdoors, you have to be prepared for just about anything,” Kirby said recently. “At least there’s electricity at the park.” But no gas, and for chefs who rely on their huge gas stoves for precise cooking temperatures, getting things to come out right under the Winefest VIP big top is a real challenge. “We come with more prior-prepared items but a lot of prep work goes on right in the tent, which is a big compliment to the chefs and students,” Kirby said. “We are fortunate that Shamrock Foods donated one of their tractor trailers for a refrigeration unit, that really helps us.” Kirby said one of the biggest problems is holding food at the right temperature, hot or cold, to prevent spoilage. “For the first time this year we stationed a volunteer student at the door of the trailer with a thermometer and every half hour they checked and recorded the temperature inside in the truck.” Kirby said. “And we had them opening and closing the door the truck whenever people were using the truck to make sure the temperature stayed safe.” The result, he said, was a greatly relieved Colorado Department of Health, which monitors the food served at the Winefest. “The first couple of years we did this (VIP tent) the health department was pulling their hair out but this year they said we were doing fine,” Kirby said. It’s small things like that that make the Winefest the success it is.