A Denver Chef Redefines the Traditional Cooking Class

What happens when a chef takes your attendees grocery shopping?

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Jeff Bolton, executive chef at the JW Marriott Denver at Cherry Creek, takes advantage of the hotel’s location in the heart of the city’s prestigious Cherry Creek shopping and entertainment district when hosting small groups. 

Just steps away from the hotel are 320 upscale shops including a Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and Tiffany & Co. But Bolton’s favorite is the Cherry Creek Whole Foods, the premier natural foods shopping destination in the city. Focused on buying local, sustainable foods and doing anything possible to minimize the hotel’s footprint, Bolton is attracted to the fact that this Whole Foods features Rocky Ford cantaloupes and Colorado-raised lamb and fish, as well as hundreds of locally made grocery and bakery products. For that reason, Bolton’s cooking classes begin at the supermarket, rather than in the hotel’s kitchens, and include a lesson in purchasing. 

“We go down every aisle in the store discussing things like why to use fresh herbs versus dry herbs, what to look for when buying fresh fish, beef, and poultry. I explain the difference between dry-aged and regular beef,” says Bolton. “We even talked about how to set up a standard pantry at home with all the basics you need to be a home chef.”

Bolton and the group choose on the spot what to buy for their intimate cooking lesson. Most recently, a group he worked with was intrigued by dry-aged beef and chose dry-aged New York Strips, regular New York Strips, house-made pasta, tossed salad, and house-baked bread for their meal. 

“We prepare the meal together and then all sit down together to chat and discuss things like food and wine,” he explains. 

The JW Marriott Denver at Cherry Creek features 196 guestrooms, many with unobstructed views of the Rockies, and 8,400 square feet of meeting space, including a 3,150-square-foot ballroom and an executive ballroom. All meeting space, as well as a courtyard that can be enclosed, is on the second floor of the hotel.