As the end of summer started to come into view in late August, Denver’s Chicken Fight! fest burst forth at Elitch Gardens reminding us that the season was still in full swing, earning itself the crown as the indisputable highlight of summer. Ask anyone who was there, and you’ll hear the same thing: it wasn’t just a night—it was the night.
While the roller coasters got our adrenaline pumping and the endless flow of fried chicken from 45 stellar competitors got our stomachs satiated, the real sugar rush was in the VIP Dessert Disco. Tucked away in the middle of the melée, the VIP Dessert Disco became the sweetest spot of the night (particularly during the brief rain spurt). Cocktails, courtesy of heavyweights like Monkey Shoulder, Hendrick’s Gin, Milagro Tequila, and Reyka Vodka, provided a crisp counterpoint to a diverse dessert lineup. The ever-relevant DJ Simone Says provided the beats, spinning dance hits through the decades as rollerskaters spun their way around the dance floor.
So, who twirled their way to victory, you ask? Our refined tastemaker judges had their say, and the VIP crowd made their voices (and sweet tooths) heard. Read on as we crown the crème de la crème of the VIP Dessert Disco.
The People’s Choice: The VIP Dessert Disco
1st Place: Chez Maggy
Like we’ve already said: Chez Maggy earned their first place titles from the judges and the people alike, and for lots of good reasons, most of them having to do with confectioners spinning blends of sugar and cream into bite-sized pastries that I literally am still dreaming about. BRB, I’m booking a table at Chez Maggy now.
2nd Place: Chile con Quesadilla
Chile con Quesadilla is no stranger to winning titles at DiningOut Events festivals, having earned their way to the top of the tastebuds with the tacos they’re slinging from the prettiest pink food truck in town. This food truck didn’t want to stay in its lane at Chicken Fight!, instead taking a detour into the dessert disco with a fantastic flan. You, too, should take a detour to Chile con Quesadilla’s new(ish) brick-and-mortar location in Brighton to see what makes this team the most award-winning taco joint in town.
3rd Place: We Knead Donut
Fresh-fresh handmade donuts made from an award-winning recipe that entails mixing and kneading by hand, rolling dough, pressing, proofing, and frying in clean, fresh oil every morning—it’s no wonder We Knead Donut is a fan-favorite around these parts. Fresh (did we mention fresh?) and fluffy, these handmade donuts are the bomb. The Dessert Disco was the new Wash Park location’s first entry into a food competition, and they set the bar high, clinching the bronze in the People’s Choice category. Which just gives us a taste of all the deliciousness to come. And—good news!—there are We Knead Donut locations all over town.
The Judge’s Choice: The VIP Dessert Disco
This traditional French brasserie earned its first-place honors from both the judges and the people (this one included) alike, which isn’t the biggest surprise. The French kinda have the whole pastry thing nailed. Just glancing at the restaurant’s dessert menu has my mouth watering and stomach growling, with its crème brûlées, chocolate mouse cake, lemon tart, pastries, and napoleons. Magical creations that are crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and piped with indulgent buttercream. Seriously, go look at any of those links. Omg.
2nd Place: Van Leeuwen Ice Cream
Van Leeuwen started as an ice cream truck in New York City and now has shops in a bunch of states, including Colorado. The secret to the success? A focus on bringing you actual ice cream with good, healthy ingredients—that magic combination of milk, cream, eggs, sugar cane (or coconuts, cashews, and oats for our vegan friends). Yes, the ice cream has fat. And that’s okay. Because fat makes it taste good. And it tasted so good, our judges gave it the festival’s silver medal.
3rd Place: Former Saint Craft Kitchen
From the go-to spot for Colorado-inspired fare and local craft beers in Denver’s theater district came one award-winning dessert. Stop by the Hyatt Regency to see what the fuss is about yourself. Will you try the decadent black forest cake layered with Chantilly cream and cherry compote, or are you more of a peach mousse enrobed in white chocolate type? Either way, can’t go wrong.