24-Karat Gold: Epicurean Group Shines As Colorado Environmental Leader

The Epicurean Environmental Management team at ELP Awards Breakfast at Wings Over the Rockies. Photo by Evan Semón

The Epicurean Environmental Management Team (Rebecca Pino, Paul Hunter, Jenna Johansen, Joel Villezcas, Meghan Sibert) posing with Lynette Myers, Coordinator for the Colorado Environmental Leadership Program (Photo by Evan Semón).

At Epicurean Group, we don’t just set the table, we set the standard, creating amazing events and experiences for the past three decades. But this week, we are incredibly proud to share that we have also been recognized for our environmental leadership in the state of Colorado.

Epicurean Group was recently named a “Gold Leader” by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environmental Leadership Program (ELP). The ELP program recognizes Colorado companies and organizations that voluntarily go beyond environmental regulations with the goal of sustainability. The ELP “Gold Leader” status marks the highest level of distinction in the esteemed program, recognizing a continued commitment to sustainability and environmental leadership.

In addition to this accolade, our Environmental Management Team, led by our Executive Innovation Chef, Jenna Johansen, was a finalist in the ELP’s “24-Karat Gold” Challenge, which spotlights Colorado environmental champions for their sustainability initiatives.

While we have a robust environmental program, as well Epicurean Cares to support the local community, we’re most proud of our waste reduction programs, ensuring that 98% of Epicurean’s unused food and serving items are recycled, reused or repurposed. We have implemented recycling and composting programs at all Epicurean offsite venues to reduce trash volume and have repurposed thousands of pounds of food by donating to partner organizations including We Don’t Waste, Sox Place and the Volunteers of America.

(Photo by Evan Semón)

The ELP Awards Breakfast at Wings Over the Rockies (Photo by Evan Semón).

Our commitment to the environment is long-standing. Epicurean Group was the first registered “Colorado Proud” caterer, using seasonal local produce on our menus. Our program encompasses all Epicurean venues, including Epicurean Sports at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, the Denver Center for Performing Arts, and Mangia Bevi Café, as well as over 1,000 corporate and private catered events a year. Our environmental efforts go beyond our events and experiences and impact things such as equipment repurposing, sustainable remodels to our office spaces, use of solar energy and implementing everyday environmental best practices such as using ceramic mugs instead of paper cups to ensure minimal impact and waste.

Being named an ELP “Gold Leader” for our sustainability initiatives and efforts to reduce food waste in the state of Colorado is an incredible honor and has inspired the Epicurean team to develop additional ways that we can reduce our environmental impact and continue to benefit our community.

Fall in Love with These Savory Fall Favorites from Epicurean Group

As the weather cools and the leaves start to crisp, we begin to crave warm, comfort food…the type that’s perfect for those chilly autumn days when all you want to do is curl up on the couch in a warm sweater and watch Netflix all day.

To help ease the transition from summer to fall, we’re sharing five seasonal favorite recipes that are perfect for this time of year!


{serves 4}

¼ cup butter, unsalted, divided
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium yellow onion, peeled & diced
½ bulb fennel, chopped
1 russet potato, peeled & diced
3 cups chicken stock
2 green tart apples, peeled & diced
½ cup heavy cream
to taste kosher salt & black pepper

Sauté garlic, onion & fennel in 2 Tbsp butter for 5 minutes. Add potato & stock. Bring to a boil.

Add apples, boil for 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Remove from heat, puree in blender or food processor until smooth.

Return to pot, add cream & heat throughout.

Season to taste with kosher salt & black pepper.

Garnish with fennel fronds & a thin drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.


{makes 6 drinks}

1 pomegranate, seeded {reserve some raw seeds for garnish}
1 cup sugar, granulated
½ cup pomegranate juice
½ cup water
1 {750 ml} bottle prosecco {or any dry bubbles}

Combine pomegranate, sugar & water in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Bring to a boil for a couple of minutes. Reduce heat to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is soft & the liquid has thickened slightly, about 15 minutes.

Using a fine-meshed strainer over a large bowl, pour pomegranate syrup through strainer, pressing seeds with the back of a spoon until most of the liquid is in the bowl. Discard seeds, saving a few to be used as garnish.

To Make Cocktail:
Divide pomegranate syrup evenly between 6 champagne glasses. Top each one with bubbles. Stir gently if desired. Garnish with a few pomegranate seeds.

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{serves 4 as salad course, 2 as a main course}

Salad Ingredients:
1 head romaine heart, washed, dried & cut into ¾” pieces
½ head radicchio, julienned
1 Tbsp fresh italian parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
5 pepperoncini, chopped
1 cup english cucumber, seeded & chopped {peeled if you wish}
1 carrot, julienned
½ red onion, thinly shaved
½ cup grape tomatoes, halved
½ cup olives {green or black}, pitted & chopped
1 cup garbanzo beans, cooked & rinsed
1 Tbsp capers, rinsed & roughly chopped
1 cup fresh mozzarella, diced
½ cup parmesan, shaved
½ cup genoa salami, sliced thinly

Dressing Ingredients:
1 Tbsp italian parsley, chopped ¾ tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped ¼ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp dried oregano, chopped 2 tsp honey or agave nectar
2 garlic cloves, peeled & chopped
¼ cup good quality red wine vinegar
¾ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

For the dressing, place all ingredients except olive oil in the food processor. Blend well, then slowly drizzle in olive oil with motor running to create an emulsified vinaigrette. Season to taste.

Place all salad ingredients in large bowl. Toss lightly to combine.

Immediately before serving, add half of the dressing & toss well, using your hands. Add small amounts of dressing as necessary; tasting & seasoning with kosher salt & pepper until salad is well dressed & flavorful.

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{serves 4}

1 Tbsp canola, coconut or extra virgin olive oil
½ lb ground chicken or turkey
2 Tbsp thai red curry paste
4 scallions, sliced on bias white & green parts separated
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated on microplane
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded & cubed
2 cups chicken stock
1 {15 oz} can coconut milk
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 lime, juiced & zested
2 tsp sambal or sriracha sauce
As desired: fresh basil, bean sprouts, cilantro, sliced jalapeño, lime wedges & sriracha for garnish

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add curry paste, stirring until the paste darkens, about 1 minute. Add chicken & stir occasionally, until nearly cooked through, about 3-4 minutes.  Add garlic, scallion whites & ginger.  Stir until softened, about 3 minutes. 

Add squash & chicken stock. Cover & bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmering until squash is tender, about 10-12 minutes. Stir in coconut milk, lime juice & zest, sambal & fish sauce. Taste for seasoning & adjust as needed.

Serve a bountiful plate of garnish in the center of the table so guests can add toppings to the hot soup as desired.

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{makes 32 bars}

2 cups crushed gingersnaps
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup all purpose flour
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 {15 oz} can unsweetened pumpkin
¾ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated on microplane
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp ground cloves
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ cups half & half
½ cup crumbled toffee pieces
½ cup pepitas, toasted & chopped

Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper, spray with pan spray.

Combine crushed gingersnaps, sugar & flour. Add melted butter & stir well to combine. Firmly press crumb mixture onto bottom of prepared pan; set aside.

Combine pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, kosher salt & cloves.

One at a time, add eggs & beat lightly until well combined. Gradually add half & half, stirring until just combined. Pour filling into crust lined pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

While warm, sprinkle top with toffee & pepitas, let cool on wire rack. Cut into bars when cool. Cover & store chilled.

No Summer is Complete without a Peach & Almond Slab Pie! Plus More of our Favorite Summertime Recipes!

We’ve rounded up some of the best recipes for when the weather is warm and our garden is lush! Here’s a few favorites from Asian Cucumber Salad to Strawberry Watermelon Agua Fresca that you can make at home today!



¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
2 mint sprigs, plus more for garnish
1’’ piece of ginger, peeled & sliced thinly or grated
2 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
2 cups strawberries, hulled & cut in half
pinch kosher salt
chilled sparkling water
crystallized ginger for garnish {optional}
vodka {optional}

makes 8 drinks


Heat sugar & water in saucepan over medium heat until dissolved. Remove from heat, add mint, ginger & salt. Place in refrigerator to chill. Remove & discard ginger & mint.

Puree syrup & fruit in blender, pour over ice & top with sparkling water.

Garnish with a sprig of mint or a skewer of crystallized ginger.

A splash of vodka is a great addition for a refreshing adult cocktail.



1 garlic clove
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 ½ tsp paprika
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp ground coriander
6 Tbsp olive oil, divided
pinch kosher salt
1 lb green beans, trimmed
6 oz salumi, sliced thinly

serves 6


Blend garlic, vinegar, paprika, lemon zest, lemon juice & coriander in a blender on high.

Scrape down sides as needed, until very smooth. With the motor running, slowly add 4 Tbsp olive oil & 2 Tbsp water & blend until combined. Season to taste with kosher salt.

Heat remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beans & cook, tossing often, until tender & browned in spots, 10-12 minutes.

Top warm beans with vinaigrette base & sliced salumi.

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3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
½ tsp granulated sugar
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 lb english cucumber
1 Tbsp scallions, sliced on the bias
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 Tbsp pickled white ginger
1 – 4 tsp jalapeño, seeded & minced
1 Tbsp black & white toasted sesame seeds

serves 4


Mix rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, sugar & salt in a bowl with a whisk until well incorporated.

Slice cucumber as thinly as desired, with a knife, mandolin or vegetable peeler.

No more than ½ hour before serving, mix all salad ingredients well. Adjust heat by using more diced jalapeños. Season to taste. Right before serving, garnish with sesame seeds.



2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 lbs pork shoulder, diced into 2″ cubes
3 tsp ground cumin, toasted
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried mexican oregano
to taste kosher salt & pepper
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 tsp garlic, granulated
dash of cinnamon
¼ cup gluten free soy sauce
½ cup pineapple juice
1 cup pork or chicken stock
1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
5 medium sweet potatoes, skin on, scrubbed

serves 5


Place the sliced onions in the bottom of the slow cooker. Mix all dry ingredients together, rub pork with seasoning, adding any left over bits to the slow cooker. Layer pork & pineapple on top of onions, add liquid, turn on low & let slow cook all day or at least 8 hours.

One hour before serving, prick sweet potatoes all over with a fork & place in 350° F oven to roast.

Remove pork from pot. It should shred easily using two forks. Discard any large chunks of fat.

Cut a slit in the top of the potatoes, creating an opening. Place warm pork mixture inside & top with garnishes
as desired.



3 palisade peaches
¼ cup granulated sugar {more as needed}
pinch kosher salt
1 orange, zested & juiced
¼ cup almonds, sliced & toasted
splash almond extract
splash vanilla extract
1 tsp cornstarch
1 pkg refrigerated pie crust {or make your own, use julia child’s recipe!}
handful all purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp water or milk
1 cup heavy cream

serves 6


Preheat oven to 400° F.

Wash, pit & slice peaches into 12 slices {You can blanch & peel peaches if you’d like, but we think the skins add fiber & a rustic touch to the dish}.

Mix sugar, kosher salt & cornstarch together. Add to peaches, orange zest & juice, almonds & almond extract. Test to see if peaches are sweet enough, if not, add more sugar.

On floured surface, roll out pie crust to a rough 12’’x10’’ rectangle. Place on parchment lined baking sheet.

Decoratively arrange peach slices over dough, leaving 2’’ border. Arrange butter slices on top of peaches. Fold edges of crust up over peaches, pinch as necessary.

Whisk egg & milk, then brush over visible crust. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 25 minutes or so until crust is cooked & peaches are tender. Cool slightly before serving.

While pie is baking, whip cream with a pinch of sugar & kosher salt. Serve whipped cream with slice of slab pie.

Innovation Chef, Jenna Johansen Shares a Family Favorite for National Applesauce Cake Day

(Photo courtesy of AllRecipes.com )

(Photo courtesy of AllRecipes.com )

In honor of National Applesauce Cake Day on June 6th, Innovation Chef, Jenna Johansen shares one of her all-time favorite family recipes with us.

One of my absolute favorite summertime sweets to make is chocolate applesauce cake. I love our handed-down family recipe; moist and delicious, and I usually always have the ingredients on hand. This version needs no frosting, so it travels easily and sits on a picnic bench perfectly, which is just what a hot summer day calls for.

I have fond memories of my mother making it often as a kid and we never had leftovers for long because everyone loves it! This version came from my Great Grandma Pearl, handed-down over generations. Today, she is 106 years old, living in Fargo, North Dakota. Maybe applesauce cake has more benefits to it than just good taste!

I like to pick the chocolate chips off the top. As I was growing up and doing a lot of the baking, I would use WAY more than the specified 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and you may want to, too!

Applesauce first came into vogue during World War I and the Great Depression when many rations were scarce. Now, I think of applesauce as being the perfect use for the fallen apples from our tree. I just peel, cook and puree to have my own homemade applesauce, so easy and simple.

P.S. This recipe pairs perfectly with corn on the cob, deviled eggs, cold beer, potato salad and anything that’s cooked on the grill!

My Mom’s Chocolate Applesauce Cake

1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs cocoa {I love the baking cocoas from Savory Spice}
1 can of applesauce
2 unbeaten eggs
2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

2 Tbs sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chocolate chips {my mom uses semi-sweet but I like to use milk chocolate}

Mix all cake ingredients well.
Pour into a greased 9″x13″ cake pan.
Sprinkle the top with topping ingredients {I always add more chocolate chips}.
Bake 350 F for 30-40 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Epicurean’s Larry DiPasquale Granted Honorary Doctorate from Johnson & Wales University


Larry DiPasquale, founder and chief executive officer of Denver’s most well established Epicurean Group, received an honorary Doctor of Business Administration in Food Service Entrepreneurship from Johnson & Wales University (JWU).

JWU is one of Denver’s premier, private institutions serving more than 1300 students from all 50 states and 8 countries; students prepping for careers in the food, travel and business markets.  DiPasquale has served on JWU’s President’s Council for 10 years is proud to have many graduates in upper management on his team.

DiPasquale launched what would be known as Epicurean Group in 1984, after moving to Denver from California with his wife, Jill. Epicurean Group has since grown to a multi-million dollar company acting as exclusive caterer for The Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, The Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Palazzo Verdi and SoCo Clubs. DiPasquale, along with his business partner, Sharon Magness Blake, opened their first restaurant, Mangia Bevi Café, in 2008, to rave reviews. DiPasquale and Epicurean continue to receive many awards, including being named as one of the Top 25 Caterers in the World by Special Events Magazine, Visit Denver’s Tourism Hall of Fame inductee, and Colorado Meetings & Events Lifetime Achievement Award winner. Still, DiPasquale’s greatest reward is serving the Denver community; DiPasquale and his Epicurean Street Cuisine food truck can be found several times a month downtown, feeding the hungry and needy.

DiPasquale, along with Richard Sandoval of Richard Sandoval Restaurants, received the award at JWU’s graduation, on Saturday, May 23, 2015 at the Colorado Convention Center’s Bellco Theater. DiPasquale’s family, including his 81 year-old Italian father, step-mother, wife, and daughter, who inspired his love for food and friends and family, were in attendance.

Larry with his wife, Jill and daughter, Christina.

Larry with his wife, Jill and daughter, Christina.

Epicurean is an organization that has grown to become one of the top catering and special event companies in the world, winning over 20 local and national awards.  Dr.  DiPasquale, along with his executive team of Greg Karl and Paul Aylmer have set the benchmark as Denver’s catering, restaurant, and venue group.

Happy Hummus Day!

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To commemorate National Hummus Day, we’re sharing a healthy and delicious Roasted Red Pepper Hummus recipe created by our Executive Chef at Sports Authority Field, Nikki Olst.

 “We love this in the kitchen for a number of reasons; the touch of spice and tang from the roasted red peppers, how easy it comes together, and it goes great with everything!”

-Nikki Olst, Executive Chef at Sports Authority Filed

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Yields 2 cups
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes {includes 30 minutes of chill time}

1 {15.5 oz.} can chickpeas, rinsed
¼ cup roasted red peppers
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup water
1 garlic clove, minced
¾ tsp salt
pinch cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Process all of the ingredients in a food processor until smooth, about 45 seconds.  Transfer to a serving bowl & chill until the flavors have blended, at least 30 minutes.  Serve cold with assorted crackers, tasty veggies & pita bread.

5 Filters to Help You Snap the Perfect Food Pic on Instagram

Last month we hosted a two-day, all out photo shoot to showcase some of the great recipes Epicurean Group will be releasing this fall. We were very fortunate to be able to work with an extremely talented freelance photographer, Laurie Smith for the third year in a row!  Lauries’ specialties are food and travel and she’s absolutely incredible. Visit her website if you can! (lauriesmithphoto.com)

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Often when you see a great photo, you stop and admire the beauty but fail to consider the amount of work that went into creating the shot. I am here to tell you firsthand, it’s A LOT of work! From planning the recipes, to preparing the food and selecting the props, there’s much work to be done. Luckily we had our Inspiration & Celebrity Chef, Jenna Johansen available to guide the way.


Jenna had a clear vision in mind which was extremely helpful considering we were pressed for time. I’m sure you’ve heard of the clever tricks companies use to market their food such as using glue instead of real milk which can have a blueish hue to it. If you’ve ever eaten a Lean Cuisine before, you know that the photo on the outside of the box doesn’t even begin to resemble what’s actually inside. For our shoot, we didn’t use any of those tricks. We used actual, real food and because of that, timing was everything. Capturing the frothy foam on an espresso is an art form and must be done within a certain time frame before it melts away. Same goes for freshly cracked eggs.

Once we got the final pictures back from Laurie, we were ecstatic! While it might have been a grueling process, the final product was well worth the effort!

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For all of you amature food photographers such as myself that love to post #foodporn on Instagram, here are five filters you can use to make your food pictures more appetizing:

1. Amaro

This setting will brighten a dark photo, which could be helpful if you’re taking a pic in a dimly lit restaurant or bar. But if you’re documenting your kitchen adventures, this could make your meal look like it was cooked under florescent lighting–or worse–in a cafeteria.

2. Rise

Rise adds a soft glow to any image. It is forgiving when documenting anything with a blemish. For example, the fruit salad you made with the banana you forgot to pack in your lunch last week, but are too cheap to toss out. However, if you are indulging in a vibrantly colored dish, why mute its colors?

3. X-Pro 11, Lo-Fi, and Hefe

Have a photo that’s in need of some drama? All of these filter could work. If used on images of crispy cheese or baked goods, you’ll have your viewers drooling. These filters, though, may be a bit much with photos that are already full of depth and color. We don’t want your food looking like it came out of a Little Tikes play kit.

4. Earlybird

Want to give your food pic a vintage feel? This is the filter for you. Afraid of making your dish look like it should have been thrown out weeks ago? Maybe avoid this….

5. Brannan

Perfect when in need of some sharpening and contrast. Brannan will define the photo you blurred while trying to balance your spatula, frying pan, small child, and camera. However, this does add a metallic and muted tint; if you are working with vibrant colors, it could dull down your image.

Peters, Jolie (2013, November 20). Best and Worst Instagram Filters for Food Porn (Martha, Please Take Note) [Blog post]. Retrieved from: http://www.epicurious.com/archive/blogs/editor/2013/11/instagram-filter-blog.html