The seventh annual Flatirons Food Film Festival may not be until October, but culinary enthusiasts can get a taste of the multi-day fall event with a fundraising benefit at Avalon Ballroom Tuesday. “Hot! Hot! Hot!” is a summer soiree that will be filled with music, film clips, a live auction, inventive cocktails and an array of culinary offerings from 10 top Boulder and Denver restaurants that will serve up dishes that fall under a theme of spicy food, hot climate food and summer food.

“Our social events are always a good time,” said Flatirons Food Film Festival director Julia Joun. “Our friends in the food and beverage industry always come through with delicious fare. And between film, music and a live auction, the joint is jumping. I look forward most to seeing our guests enjoying themselves.”

On tap will be beer from Sanitas Brewing Company, wine from Francis Ford Coppola Winery and a special tropical cocktail made with ingredients from two Boulder companies.  “The Director’s Cut” will feature ingredients from Boulder’s Altitude Spirits and Bougie Syrup — Papagayo Platinum Rum and Tiki Syrup, respectively — mixed with Rothman & Winter Orchard Peach Liqueur, and orange and lime juice. There will also be a mocktail version of the drink, packing all the flavor and appeal of the original that is alcohol-free.

Courtesy photo/ Mercantile Dining & Provision

Executive chef of Denver’s Mercantile Dining & Provision Matt Vawter prepares a dish at the Union Station restaurant. Mercantile is one of the restaurants serving up eats at Flatirons Food Film Festival’s fundraiser benefit “Hot! Hot! Hot!”

“The participants are a mix of restaurants and food businesses that we know and love and ones that we admire,” said Joun. “For instance, chef Kelly Whitaker of Basta was on the Festival board and we love his food. Chef Alex Seidel of Mercantile and I have been talking for years about doing something together. Their food is wonderful and I am so happy that we will see them.”

Seidel, a 2018 James Beard Award winner, recently named Matt Vawter as executive chef at Denver’s Mercantile Dining and Provisions.

“We will be featuring a spin on poke, a popular dish in Hawaii that usually has tuna,” said Vawter. “Instead of tuna we will be using local beets.”

The award-winning restaurant’s “beet poke” will feature tapioca crisp, avocado and furikake crumble. Other flavor pairings include a savory cherry churro with smoked duck mole and crème fraîche mousse from Boulder’s Flagstaff House and a spicy herbaceous bean salad with a broth of fennel, serrano and preserved lemon from Fresh Thymes Eatery.

McCall Burau/ Courtesy photo

The shishito peppers dish at Denver’s Mercantile Dining & Provision. Mercantile will provide attendees of Flatirons Food Film Festival’s benefit “Hot! Hot! Hot!” with a beet poke.

Summertime in the Front Range always brings a diverse array of flavors produced by area farmers that benefit purveyors who are committed to utilizing local ingredients whenever possible.

“As things start to warm up and summer approaches, I always love a simple tomato salad and anything with peaches,” said Vawter.

In addition to serving cuisine from Front Range establishments — like Ras Kassa’s Ethiopian Restaurant, Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, Biju’s Little Curry Shop, Kelley and Ping, Robin Chocolates, Chiporro Sauce Company and Redgarden Restaurant and Brewery — “Hot! Hot! Hot!” attendees will have the opportunity to bid on a number of prizes that will have proceeds benefiting the Flatirons Food Film Festival. From a $1,500 gift certificate for an overseas culinary tour with accommodations, meals and site visits, courtesy of Boulder-based Pack A Fork, to a year supply of artisanal bread from Moxie Bread Co., the items up for grabs are varied.

“It’s always fun to be part of a fundraiser with great chefs and industry professionals from around the Denver/Boulder area.” said Vawter. “Events like this give us all a chance to catch up and cook food for a great cause.”

Clips from all featured films that are set to screen at the Flatirons Food Film Festival will be shown at “Hot! Hot! Hot!,” allowing guests to see snippets of the fast-paced synergy, creativity and camaraderie that simmers in restaurant kitchens throughout the country.

Mercantile Dining & Provision/ Courtesy photo

Vawter, who was named executive chef of Denver’s Mercantile Dining and Provision in May, will offer a unique beet poke at the Flatirons Food Film Festival’s fundraiser benefit on Tuesday.

“I feel fortunate that I have grown up in this restaurant community and culinary scene,” said Vawter. “I moved here 12 years ago and started cooking, and to see the growth has been amazing.

“For me, seeing the community of chefs and cooks that have either grown up here in the scene, or come from different cities continuing to push and grow the standard for the local dining clientele is great for everyone involved,” said Vawter. “The support that we receive in our restaurant everyday from the dining community is the most rewarding because it allows us to continue to do what we love to do in the restaurants.”

Live jazz music will be provided by Harmony Music House’s septet.

“We plan to encourage our guests to dance by shaking a leg ourselves,” said Joun.

If you go

What: Flatirons Food Film Festival’s fundraiser: “Hot! Hot! Hot!”
When: 6 p.m.Tuesday
Where: Avalon Ballroom, 6185 Arapahoe Road, Boulder
Cost: $75-$85
More info:

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