RARE: When It's Okay to be Judgmental

By Eric Elkins


RARE, The Denver Steak Championships is just weeks away. It’s hard to ponder that August is already approaching, but at least it means we can wind down the season by eating all the steaks in one of the most beautiful indoor/outdoor spaces in the city. Strolling the Galleria and Sculpture Park at the DPAC is a treat any time of year, but especially in late summer, with its gentle breezes and dramatic sunsets.


One of the especially compelling aspects of RARE is that it’s more than just a festival of meat; it’s an actual competition between Colorado chefs, all on a level playing field. They choose the cut, they choose the prep, they cook it right in front of you — but every competitive dish is steak.


Chefs will vie for the top prize in two categories: traditional and creative. And each one has its own set of parameters.


The “traditional” competition will be judged as a plate overall — with the steak and its side. Competitors can create any side they want, with no restrictions, but they’ll all work to make sure it’s complementary to their preparation of the dish’s star — beef provided by Meyer Natural Angus and Laura's Lean


Judging criteria for the traditional categories will be split between how the dish tastes and how it’s plated:

Taste: How is the steak’s flavor, seasoning, and sauce (if any)?

Preparation: Was the steak aged? And how well was it cooked? 

Cohesiveness: How does the side dish work with the steak? Does it enhance the full experience? 

Presentation: Is the plated steak and side appealing to the eye? 


On the “creative” side, competitors will depend solely on their preparation of the meat to win the day. Sides are optional, and not judged, so don’t expect to see too many of them.

Taste: Again, how is that bite of beefy wonder? 

Preparation: How well was the steak aged/cooked?

Creativity/Originality: Here’s where the competitors make their preparations stand out.

Presentation: Some say we eat with our eyes as much as our mouths. This is how you judge just that.


While you’re wandering from grill to grill, enjoying every bite and marking down your impressions, give some thought to these criteria. They’ll help you pass final judgment when you have a happy belly full of meat and need to pick your faves.


Keep in mind that the chefs aren’t the only ones competing at RARE. Bartenders and spirit brands are also part of the mix with their paired cocktails. 


They’ll be judged on the following:

Taste: How’s the flavor? Is it balanced? And how does it complement its dish?

Creativity: What makes this cocktail stand out from the others?

Presentation: Is the cocktail eye-catching? Whimsical? Elegant?


If you’re ready to be judgmental, buckle up for RARE on August 15. You’ll want to buy your  ticketASAP, because prices increase as each level of early bird tickets is sold out. Join DiningOut Events in partnership with Stella Artois and benefitting The Denver Health Foundation. It’ll be a brilliant and delicious way to wind down summer — treat your taste buds (and best buds) to something special in August.

Jeff Suskin