While the growing Denver food scene is pumping out more and more incredible chefs, there aren’t many who have consistently impressed with their experimentalism, like Bo Porytko from Misfit Snackbar and Royce Oliveira from To The Wind Bistro. Each of them operate a small facility in East Colfax. Misfit works in Middleman’s cubicle-like kitchen, and To The Wind recently reopened its compact chef’s counter for vaccinated-only dinners. Within the confines of each tiny space, every chef has always created quirky menus of some of the best foods in town, each with a penchant for strange ingredients and a complete lack of concern for the narrow-minded. “Oliveira also simply makes killer food, creatively and courageously. He’s not afraid of putting offal on his menus and has dishes that read more like cooking porn than something for the general public that I always respect, ”Porytko said.
Last Sunday April 25th, Oliveira took over the kitchen at Misfit and created a menu that blended Misfit-style dishes with his own culinary inclinations. The event, called Freaky Sunday, was the first in a two-week series in which chefs swapped cuisines and tried to occupy each other’s creative direction.
“It was also great to see his menu as it was my portrayal of my culinary mind at Misfit as my menu for the next week is the same for his mind in his room. I was flattered and jealous of the dishes he came up with and absolutely thought he killed it, ”Porytko continued. Item included bottomless peanuts with To The Wind Spice Mix and Worcestershire sauce in the barrel, “gin and tonic” mussels with macrut lime and tonic broth, juniper aioli and grilled bread and mole-duck nachos with fermented black beans, crema, Queso Blanco and Corn Salsa. While the menu was clearly Oliveira’s, the general resemblance to Porytko’s unusual inclinations was extraordinary – the mutual admiration that showed in the little touches.
Next Sunday, Porytko will do the same at To The Wind, offering two seats in a six-course Prix fix as a similar tribute. While the two have been friends for almost six years, this will be the first time they have worked so directly together. “He was always a kindred spirit who was both incredibly cynical and somehow still very serious. Unlike most chefs, he didn’t want to talk about food most of the time either, so we had a better connection than most. Dan, my old Rebel business partner, was a really good friend of Royce’s too, ”Porytko said. “We have similar attitudes towards food, but completely different concepts for our respective rooms. So Royce suggested a swap first and we just ran with it from there,” he continued.
If last week’s takeover was a sign of that, dinner this Sunday will likely be one of the most exciting get-togethers of the year for anyone with the slightest interest in the wonderfully brave.
The next Freaky Sunday event will take place on Sunday May 2nd at To The Wind Bistro as a 6-course menu with beer pairings from USD 85 per person. At 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. there are two seats. Reservations can be made at Porytko at [email protected]
The Misfit Snack Bar is located at Middleman, 3401 East Colfax Ave., Denver. To The Wind Bistro is located at 3333 East Colfax Ave., Denver. It is open Wednesday through Saturday from 5pm to 8.30pm
All photographs by Brittany Werges.