Edge Restaurant's RARE Steak Competition entry. | Photo by Ashley Beguin

The RARE Steak Championship Winners are In

The sizzling successes from DiningOut Event’s annual meat and seafood festival.

BY Steph Wilson


Once again, RARE, the Steak Championship brought some of the city’s finest chefs, restaurants, and drink slingers together in an epic showdown.

Presented by DiningOut Events, this year’s event unlimited drink and bites extravaganza took place at Sculpture Park at Denver Center for the Performing Arts, last Thursday, June 20. As the smoke from the grills filled the air with mouth-watering aromas, the competition heated up among twenty-six steak contenders. While over in the VIP section, a handful of chefs showed off talent, including Max Mackissock of A5 Steakhouse, Jennifer Jasinski of Stoic & Genuine, and Oscar Padilla of Gaucho Parrilla geared up for the Surf and Seafood challenge.

As people lined up at the tents, the event saw fierce competition and outstanding creativity. Each team put a signature spin on beef, all provided by Buckhead Pride, the sponsor for the festival. Here’s what we saw, what we ate, and the winners of the 2024 RARE. 

Seasoned Swine BBQ took home judges' choice at the 2024 RARE. | Photo by Ashley Beguin
Seasoned Swine BBQ took home judges’ choice at the 2024 RARE. | Photo by Ashley Beguin

Best Traditional Dish

Judges’ Choice: Seasoned Swine BBQ

Peoples’ Choice: STK Steakhouse

Pitmaster Matthew Meyer of Seasoned Swine BBQ impressed judges with his cherry wood-smoked tenderloin topped with gorgonzola cream, or, as the pitmaster called it, the “million-dollar sauce.” Paired with the bite was a twice-baked potato, which took eight hours to perfect. 

“We smoked our tenderloin using cherrywood with our smokers, and then we came here and seared them,” said Meyer, who’s dedication for his craft was evident in every bite. Obviously the judges agreed. 

The public voted in STK Steakhouse. The downtown restaurant won over the public with its expertly prepared traditional steak dish, cementing the LoDo hot spot’s status as a crowd favorite.

Great Divide Brewery & Roadhouse took home numerous prizes. | Photo by Ashley Beguin
Great Divide Brewery & Roadhouse took home numerous prizes. | Photo by Ashley Beguin

Best Creative Dish

Winner: Great Divide Brewery & Roadhouse

Great Divide Brewery & Roadhouse defended its title from last year with an Asian-style steak frites, gaining both Judges’ and Peoples’ Choice. Chef James Doxon’s creation featured a crispy potato hash, sweet potato and five-spice purée, and ginger-smoked short rib, topped with a crispy potato garnish. 

“The rep for the dish took a day and a half,” said Doxon. “We won the last two years, so we had to defend our title.” Which the restaurant did splendidly. Not that we’re surprised after a visit there last spring.

Best Cocktail

Judges’ Choice: 801 Chophouse with Hendricks Gin

Peoples’ Choice: Great Divide Brewery & Roadhouse with Law’s Whiskey

The cocktail from 801 Chophouse, a coconut-washed Hendricks Gin concoction with lime, cucumber, mint, and pineapple, secured the judges’ top spot in the cocktail category.

“For our cocktail, we went with a coconut-washed Hendricks Gin, lime, cucumber, and mint, and a little bit of pineapple. It’s on the menu,” shared Francis Berrios-Hernandez, executive chef at 801 Chophouse. The mixture proved good enough for the judges, who also awarded the restaurant second place in the Best Traditional Dish category.

Chef Frank Bonanno and his Mizuna team. | Photo by Ashley Beguin
Chef Frank Bonanno and his Mizuna team. | Photo by Ashley Beguin

VIP Surf Seafood Challenge

Judges’ Choice: Mizuna

Peoples’ Choice: Jack’s on Pearl

“We did charred watermelon with smoked king salmon with crème fraîche, caviar, and breadcrumbs.” said Michael Dunning, Mizuna’s executive chef. “It was a good fit for RARE because it breached the  two words that set dishes apart, unique and approachable.”

The chef added that the unique part comes from the watermelon. As for the approachable food to match the seafood theme, he wanted to feature smoked salmon. “Everyone knows salmon,” he said. “It feels great to win and we’re over the moon right now.”

RARE wasn't only a food festival, it was a tasty party. | Photo by Ashley Beguin
RARE wasn’t only a food festival, it was a tasty party. | Photo by Ashley Beguin

An Air of Celebration

The atmosphere at RARE was electric, with stylish outfits, flowing wine, and enthusiastic crowds. Most everyone we spoke to had been before. “RARE is my favorite event of the year,” said one attendee. A pair of festival goers gushed over their  love for the event, saying they’ve never missed a year since its inception. Another couple mentioned that attending RARE has become a cherished yearly tradition for them.

As the smoke cleared and the grills cooled, the memories of this year’s RARE lingered, promising another year of anticipation for Denver’s most mouthwatering culinary competition.

For more details on the event and future updates, visit RARE Steak Fest Denver.

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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.