An aerial view of Sculpture Park at Denver Performing Arts Center during RARE, the Steak Championship from DiningOut Events

RARE Steak Championship: A High-Stakes Battle of the Finest Cuts

BY Steph Wilson


RARE Steak Championship: A High-Stakes Battle of the Finest Cuts

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In Denver, there are two kinds of people in the world: those who love steak and those who are wrong. And for those who do love a good cut, RARE, the Steak Championship is an event that can’t be missed. Taking place at the picturesque Sculpture Garden at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday, May 25, at the start of Memorial Day weekend, RARE is the unofficial-official kickoff to what promises to be a fantastic summer. 

But this is no ordinary steak competition. This is a high-stakes battle of the finest cuts, where top chefs from Denver and beyond come together to showcase their culinary prowess and create the ultimate steak experience for the discerning palates of the judges. It’s the brainchild of Jeff Suskin, the founder of DiningOut Events, who believes that Denver is the perfect place for a steak championship.

“Denver has a rich tradition of steakhouse culture, and we wanted to create an event that celebrates that culture and brings it to the forefront,” he said. “RARE, the Denver Steak Championship is a platform for the best chefs to showcase their talents and create a unique and unforgettable experience for our guests.”

And what an experience it is. The Sculpture Garden, with its breathtaking views of the city skyline and the mountains beyond, provides the perfect backdrop for the culinary spectacle that unfolds before the attendees’ eyes. With the chefs firing up their grills and the aroma of sizzling steaks wafting through the air, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and anticipation of what’s to come.

Along with the People’s Choice award-winners (as determined by, as the name suggests, the people), an expert panel of judges, made up of some of Denver’s most distinguished food critics and connoisseurs, score each steak on a variety of criteria, including taste, texture, and presentation. But it’s not just the steak that’s the star of the show. The event also features a variety of cocktails and wines providing the perfect complement to the main attraction—and a cocktail competition to boot.

For the lucky 300 people who manage to score VIP tickets before they sell out (they tend to go fast), the experience kicks off at 5:30 p.m. With 30 minutes of unfettered access to the best bites and cocktails that Denver has to offer, it’s a gourmet smorgasbord that would make even the most jaded food critic salivate. In the dedicated VIP area by the main stage under the outstretched arms of the Dancers sculpture, top-tier ticket holders will find elevated wines, premium cocktails from the Yacht Club, a sumptuous spread of gourmet desserts, and cooking demos from top chefs for those looking to sharpen their chef skills.

But the real pièce de résistance? The second installment of SURF, the Denver Seafood Challenge—a pop-up super-premium tasting experience in partnership with Seattle Fish Co. exclusively for VIP ticket holders. It’s a feast for the senses that will leave you reeling, in the best possible way.

At 6 p.m., First Taste ticket holders gain entry to the festivities and the food—and there’s still plenty to go around when General Admission gates open at 7 p.m. so things can really start cooking. Twenty-five of Denver’s most iconic restaurants will be serving tastes of traditional and classic steak-centric dishes in hopes of earning the most votes in the People’s Choice category as well as from the panel of expert judges. And these chefs bring their A games, serving dishes that showcase their culinary prowess.

But it’s not just about the food. For Suskin and the DiningOut Events team, the RARE Denver Steak Championship is about the people—the ones who make the food and the ones who love to eat it. “We wanted to create an event that not only showcases the best steaks in Denver but also brings people together to celebrate the best of Denver dining,” Suskin says. “Food has a unique ability to foster a sense of community, and we hope that the RARE Denver Steak Championship can be a catalyst for that.”

And indeed, the RARE Denver Steak Championship has struck a chord with the Denver community. For one night, food lovers from all walks of life come together to celebrate their love of steak, and to experience the best that Denver has to offer.

“We want people to come away from this event with a sense of pride in their city and in the amazing culinary talent we have here,” Suskin says. “Denver is a special place, and the RARE Denver Steak Championship is a way to celebrate that.”

The event also features live music, lounge areas, and plenty of opportunities to relax and enjoy the scenery. And with over 50 wines and spirits for guests to sample, there’s no shortage of ways to wash down the great bites of steak.

Last year’s Judges Choice RARE champions Citizen Rail (Traditional) and Guard and Grace (Creative) will be defending their titles against competitors like GQ Championship BBQ, Edge Restaurant, Avelina, and Ultreia, while SURF title holder Jax Fish House tries to hold off advances at the title from places like A5 Steakhouse and Mizu Izakaya. People’s Choice winners 801 Chophouse (Traditional), Great Divide Brewery and Roadhouse / Urban Farmer (tied for Creative), and Denver Poke Company (among many others) attempt to repeat their successes while STK, Eddie Merlots, and Monarch Casino and Resort are hoping to claim the glory.

But when restaurants like these compete, everybody wins, and it’s clear that the RARE Denver Steak Championship has become a beloved event in the Denver community.

“Great event! The steak was amazing and the cocktails were creative and flowing. Seemed to be enough space so it didn’t feel crowded and you could have as much of whatever you wanted. Plus, the music was fun and festive!” raved Lindsey K.

“Absolutely amazing event! Already can’t wait for next year. Officially my favorite food festival!” wrote Peter R. And there’s plenty more of those types of endorsements out there.

For those who love steak and appreciate the culinary talent that Denver has to offer, the RARE Denver Steak Championship is an event that’s not to be missed. As the great man once said, “The only way to eat steak is rare. And if it’s not rare, it’s not worth eating.” So mark your calendars for the next RARE Denver Steak Championship and get ready for a night of unforgettable food, drinks, and fun.

Tickets go on sale March 15 and there’s only one way to get them: sign up for ticket notifications from DiningOut Events here. You’ll be among the first to know when on-sale details are announced.

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Steph Wilson

Steph Wilson is a writer, editor, and creative maximalist in Denver. She makes magazines for a living and throws color around the world like confetti for fun.