Cheyenne Mountain Zoo's badass banquet face

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In this week's Indy, I said that the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo offers a delicious alternative to common captive-audience grub

It's something I've actually said before, like earlier this year when I attended a Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Culinary Federation holiday party inside the zoo's Lodge at Moose Lake, hosted by chef Nate Dirnberger. And something I can say once again, after observing Dirnberger and the Taste of the Wild Catering staff last night at an intimate, private function recognizing a key donor to the zoo. 

After our article hit print this week, Dirnberger invited me to hang out with the kitchen crew and document his special 10-course meal — to see the finer dining side he and his crew are quite capable of, which surpasses the gourmet goodies at The Overlook and rivals pricey establishments across the city, easily. 

Here's a look at the atmosphere and courses. We'll let the food pics and plate descriptions do the talking:

Chef Dirnberger, back-lit by The Overlook's spectacular view. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Chef Dirnberger, back-lit by The Overlook's spectacular view.
Strawberry and Kiwi Fruit Caviar. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Strawberry and Kiwi Fruit Caviar.
Watermelon Bloody Mary with Mint Foam. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Watermelon Bloody Mary with Mint Foam.
Roasted Sweet Corn Red Lentil Hummus with Warm Flatbread. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Roasted Sweet Corn Red Lentil Hummus with Warm Flatbread.
Local Hard Boiled Egg with Bacon Onion Jam. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Local Hard Boiled Egg with Bacon Onion Jam.
Rocky Ford Melon Sorbet with Strawberry Poprocks. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Rocky Ford Melon Sorbet with Strawberry Poprocks.
Rooftop Garden Beet Salad with Honey Roasted Almonds, Pickled Red Onion, Goat Cheese, and Garlic Confit Preserve. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Rooftop Garden Beet Salad with Honey Roasted Almonds, Pickled Red Onion, Goat Cheese, and Garlic Confit Preserve.
Trout Cake with Sweat Pea Jalapeño Butter and Sir Charles Relish. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Trout Cake with Sweat Pea Jalapeño Butter and Sir Charles Relish.
Black Forest Bacon and Chinese Walnut Cream Cheese Stuffed Airline Chicken Breast with Brown Butter Honey Gravy (rooftop garden green and savory cracker garnish). - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Black Forest Bacon and Chinese Walnut Cream Cheese Stuffed Airline Chicken Breast with Brown Butter Honey Gravy (rooftop garden green and savory cracker garnish).
Red Tart Cherry Pie Crumble with Vanilla Spiced Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream and Chantilly Cream. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Red Tart Cherry Pie Crumble with Vanilla Spiced Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream and Chantilly Cream.
Oxford Lavendar White Chocolate and Dark Chocolate Orange Truffle Duo. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Oxford Lavendar White Chocolate and Dark Chocolate Orange Truffle Duo.
The city view at night, and chef Dirnberger's thoughtful presentation of each course lined up on a rail so that departing guests could re-live the experience on the way out. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • The city view at night, and chef Dirnberger's thoughtful presentation of each course lined up on a rail so that departing guests could re-live the experience on the way out.

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