I’ll admit, getting out of bed and out the door on a Saturday morning for a 7:30am call time is not my favorite thing to do. However, on this occasion I had a bit more pep to my step than normal as I headed down to the site of the weekly Union Station Farmers Market.
Walking along Wynkoop, the courtyard of Denver’s historic Union Station slowly came into view. A long table draped with a white and gray linen cloth and decorated with mason jars filled with flowers was already set up in the center square.
As I got closer, I could make out the brightly hued cloth napkin adorned each place setting along with the morning’s menu promising doughnuts, fritattas, and a host of other goodies.
As my fellow diners began arriving and seating themselves along the table, the farmers market was already springing to life all around us as vendors lifted and unloaded crates of produce and products, set out their wares on tables, and made preparations for the crowd of shoppers that would come for the opening bell at 9 o’clock.
In this case as an early bird, I wasn’t catching worms. Much better, I was catching gourmet fare put together by the Union Station Farmers Market Chef Council — a roster of the who’s who of Denver chefs coming from acclaimed restaurants like Rioja, Tavernetta, and Vesta.
A seemingly endless stream of food (in reality, a hearty six-course meal) poured out of the Mercantile kitchen just a few yards away and arrived to our table in large family-style platters, with each chef stopping to say a few words about the item they prepared.
Featuring farm fresh ingredients pulled from the stock of local providers, the dishes beautifully showcased the variety and quality of Colorado-grown produce and meats.
The menu included:
- Ricotta Bombolini with Brown Butter Palisade Peaches – Chef Nick Kayser & Nadine Donovan, Vesta
- Plum Ricotta Doughnut – Chef Eric Dale, Rioja
- Olathe Corn Frittata – Chef Matt Vawter, Mercantile dining + provision
- Farm Fresh Egg Bake – Chef Paul C. Reilly, beast + bottle & Coperta
- Roasted Oyster Mushrooms – Chef Sheila Lucero, Jax Fish House
- Porchetta with Sausage and Peppers – Chef Ian Wortham, Tavernetta
Although the Chef Council Breakfast is not thrown frequently (this is only the second time the event has occurred), I definitely recommend checking it out the next time it pops up. If you support the farm to table movement, local growers, or just love a good meal – this is the event for you!
Another bonus – the breakfast ends just before the market opens, allowing guests to easily transition from the dining experience to shopping the market.
Missed the breakfast but still want to find out how to support the local food community? The Boulder County Farmers Market (which runs the growers-only farmers markets in Denver, Boulder, Longmont, and Lafayette) has a fundraising program to collect $10,000 to go towards community programs like food access and zero waste. Donate $20 and receive a farm charm to wear or share. Tie on the bracelet, make a wish, and when the bracelet falls off your wish might come true!
Are you a frequent shopper at one of the growers-only markets in Colorado? What is your favorite thing to buy? Who are among your favorite vendors?
Please note: Financial compensation was not received for this post. I was invited by the PR firm working with Boulder County Farmers Market to attend the Chef Council Breakfast. Opinions expressed here are my own.