When traveling for work or leisure, the culinary scene is a big part of the experience for many. Benchmark Hospitality’s executive chefs and culinary experts at the company’s 40 hotels, resorts and restaurants, including Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs, identified dining trends for this year.

1. Small Plates – Served any time of day and through expo-style cooking, including show kitchens, action stations, EVO grilling and mobile kitchens, small plates get gobbled up.

2. Roll & Go – Bun-less creations that are rolled in plain or flavored tortillas instead of presented as traditional sandwiches are gaining favor.

3. Lose the Fat – Increased awareness of fat, as well as the emphasis on gluten free and vegan foods, has forever altered cooking styles. Instead of fat, chefs are changing to beer braising, cider poaching and quick pickling.

4. Back to the Future – Comeback items such as meatloaf, liver and onions, shepherd’s pie and pan-fried chicken. Classics like shrimp Louie and oysters Rockefeller are shoving chicken Caesar and spinach dip off the menu.

5. Grab-n-Go – Favorites for a quick meal or snack include wilted spinach, maple seared salmon brioche and golden jewel-grained edamame guacamole.

6. Raging Ramen – Once thought to be a food for cash-starved college students, ramen is now breaking into a “low end = high end” street food scenario.

7. Slow Ride, Cook it Easy – Many people are now on the slow food bandwagon at home. Restaurants are putting the process right into the dining room with charcuterie drying, cheese caves, vinegar barrels, etc.

8. Curacao Cocktails – As travel becomes second nature to nearly everyone, travelers want to relive their experiences. An Irish whiskey sampler brings Dublin home, while a Ghirardelli chocolate martini brings San Francisco to the backyard or terrace.

9. Tea Mixology – Create tantalizing flavors for simple teas from a variety of herbs and spices and then infusing. The use of rose hips, lavender and basil creates an aromatic scent and a soothing, calming beverage.

10. Branding the Chef – Bottling items, like a signature lemon curd ale and barbecue or chipotle bourbon sauces straight off the chef’s house menu, are replacing traditional store-bought items in customers’ pantries.

Kimpton Hotel Born sits next to the train tracks of Denver's Union Station, the city’s transportation hub. In tandem with the hustle and bustle of city life, Hotel Born projects a Rocky Mountain feel with alpine-modern spaces that exude warmth and rusticity, which is exactly what groups and visitors want when they come to Denver.

 

Denver native Keisha Makonese’s passion for planning events dates way back. Her latest gig as director of sales and corporate events at Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum began nine years ago. In this role, Makonese helps oversee an average of 150 private events at Wings Over the Rockies each year, from making meetings for 20 people to annual dinners for 2,000 fun and interactive experiences.

 

Here's who has been crowned the winners and runners-up of the Colorado Meetings + Events Best of 2020 readers' choice awards. Congratulations!  

Best Brewery/Distillery/Winery with Event Space 
Bigsby's Folly Craft Winery & Restaurant