Working together to help others is a quick way to get to know others on a very different level. The various stateside and international mission trips I’ve been on with high school 
youth and people of all ages have confirmed that fact each and every time. As with any service project, the servers come away with just as much as those being served. Getting a large hotel staff with many departments interacting and "playing" for the same team has to be tricky; so two recent community service projects from Denver hotels caught my attention.

For the 12th consecutive year, associates from The Westin and Sheraton downtown hotels gathered on Thanksgiving Day to serve a holiday meal at Catholic Charities’ Samaritan House, a shelter for Denver’s homeless. The Westin Denver Downtown 
Executive Chef Jean-Luc Voegele, Sheraton Denver Downtown Executive Chef Scot Skomal and Samaritan House Executive Chef Dave Uelze partnered to serve some of their favorite holiday dishes (see two recipes below). Olympic gold medalist and Denver local Missy Franklin and her family also were on hand to help serve.  

Employees of The Ritz-Carlton, Denver have committed to a fifth year helping the city’s homeless youth and young adults through Urban Peak. One Thursday morning every month, staff volunteer to prepare and serve a community breakfast at the shelter resulting in 48 breakfasts served by 65 team members to date. The property also has hired employees through Urban Peak’s Job Readiness Training program, participated in an annual career fair alongside various downtown businesses, and organized clothing and toiletry drives. 

The holidays are a great time to get these initiatives going or to start the conversation. I can’t wait to hear what your team is doing to reach out and make the world a better place.

MUSHROOM BISQUE
Sheraton Denver Downtown Executive Chef Scot Skomal

2 quarts vegetable broth
2 ounces dried mushroom
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Half diced red onion
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 Portobello mushrooms
4 ounces shitake mushrooms
1 pound button mushrooms
4 ounces crimini mushrooms
1 quart water
1 quart heavy whipping cream
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine vegetable broth and dried mushrooms in saucepan. Simmer for 2 hours to extract flavor from and re-hydrate mushrooms. Rough chop all fresh mushrooms. Heat 
oil in stockpot. Sweat garlic and onion in oil. Add fresh mushrooms and sauté until soft. Add mushroom broth and bring to a simmer. Puree with stick blender or carefully with a conventional blender. Return to pot and bring to a boil. Add cream, return to a boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Serves 16

ROASTED BEETS SALAD
The Westin Denver Downtown Executive Chef Jean-Luc Voegele

3 pounds red beets
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoons white ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 tablespoon chopped shallots
1 tablespoon dried cherries, blanched and chopped
1 cup tomato cubes, peeled & seeded
1 tablespoon macadamia nuts, small pieces

Goat Cheese mixture:
1 pound goat cheese (Logs)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon white ground pepper

Tomato Vinaigrette:
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup Banyuls Vinegar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon white ground pepper
1 cup tomato cubes, peeled & seeded
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped shallots
1 tablespoon chopped chives

Garnish:
12 each Italian parsley sprigs
12 each cherry tomatoes cut in half

Wash the beets in running water and scrap off all the dirt. Drain them and wrap the beets in aluminum foil and bake in 350(F) oven until soft, approximately 2- 3 hours. After beets cool, peel off the skin and shred into large bowl.

In a large bowl mix oil and vinegar with salt and pepper (like a vinaigrette). Add chives, parsley, shallots, dried cherries, tomato, and macadamia nuts. Add shredded beets and blend. Season to taste.

To prepare the goat cheese:
Mix the cheese, kosher salt and white ground pepper in mixer until smooth. Place in piping bag with star tip and set aside.
 
To prepare the vinaigrette: 
In medium bowl whisk oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to emulsify the vinaigrette. Add remaining ingredients. Season to taste. 

Assembly of the salad:
Use a 3-inch round circle and start filling it up ¾ with the beet salad, add the goat cheese. Drizzle the vinaigrette around the plate and decorate with cherry tomatoes and a sprig of 
parsley.

Serves 12

Over the years, any corporate event planner can admit to spending countless hours researching the perfect venue or vendors for their gatherings. After attending or hosting hundreds of events, New York-based Daphne Hoppenot was no stranger to this research and was frustrated by its repetitive nature. However, it was planning her wedding in 2018 that pushed her to realize the lack of resources in the corporate events market compared to the wedding industry, and set out to see if other meetings and events professionals were struggling with the same problem.  

 

Freelancing has become a new ball game since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, as many companies cannot afford to keep full-time positions, but still need those tasks completed. Although many more professionals have had to join the freelancing community since March, Tracy Judge had the passion for the freelancing community two years ago–long before the pandemic hit–and founded her company Soundings Connect in order to directly connect meetings and events industry freelancers with customers. 

 

Location: Less than an hour away from Fort Collins, Denver and Boulder, Longmont is very much centralized on northern Colorado’s Front Range. Made up of a combination of certified creative and historic downtown districts and St. Vrain State Park on its outskirts, Longmont is a lively scene for those who appreciate a mix of urban and outdoor living.