EXTRA RARE, The Exclusive VIP Tasting Experience is almost here…

Poised atop the steps of Sculpture Park’s Galleria, the Extra Rare VIP Experience features a spacious tasting lounge and bar and overlooks the live music stage at the center of the event. We recommend you take advantage of your exclusive early access (6pm entry), this will give you an opportunity to grab a cocktail and peruse the competing steakhouses in the Grand Tasting area before the GA guests enter at 7pm.

You should have received your VIP lanyard and wristband in the mail. If you have any issues at all, one of our attendants at the VIP entrance will be happy to assist you.


Our exclusive VIP early entrance opens at 6pm. Please enter through the Galleria at the Denver Arts Venue, which can be found at 14th Street and Curtis (between Arapahoe & Champa). Please note this is a separate entrance from the main event gate, which is on Champa St. Our VIP concierge will check you in and direct you towards the main VIP lounge in Sculpture Park.


We highly recommend taking alternate transportation to the event so you can enjoy the full experience without worry, but if you do drive to the event, parking can be found at The Arts Complex Parking Garage at 13th St & Arapahoe St (Entrance 1 is 1025 13th St, Denver, CO 80204, Entrance 2 is located between 14th St and 13th St). Take the Parking Garage elevators to Level 3 to access the Galleria and all theatres. Wheelchair ramps are located in the parking garage on levels 3, 4, and 5. Should you need additional direction, please reference the Arts Complex website here.


Karen “Cricket” Donkin

RARE VIP Director

Cricket has been Involved in the global event industry as both a Producer and Project Director for over 20 years. She has managed and executed programs for numerous Fortune 500 companies at 11 Olympic Games, 3 Super Bowls, both Men and Women’s FIFA World Cup, F1 Car Racing and other major worldwide events. Throughout her career she has embraced her passion for people and delivering exceptional experiences.

Other important contact for RARE:

Jeff Suskin


VIP Main Lounge

Located above the circular pavilion as you enter through the VIP entrance (walking through the Galleria from 14th St.)

VIP Field Lounge 

Located to the left of the sculpture pad in the middle of the festival.

VIP Main Lounge Highlights

Chef Max Mackissock and his team from the soon to open A5 Steakhouse will be triple searing tastes of A5 Japanese Wagyu from the Miyazaki prefecture. These cuts are graded BMS 12, the highest rating of beef marbling. Mackissock is the only Denver chef ever to garner a 4-star review from The Denver Post (for the legendary Squeaky Bean) and is the mind behind Bar Dough, Denver’s highest-rated Italian restaurant.

Top Chef Winner Paul Qui and the staff of Koko Ni will be tasting you on Local Wagyu Pastrami SSAM with butter lettuce, seasonal pickles, and nam Jim. Alongside Chef Paul, you’ll meet Top Chef Carrie Baird, who will be putting her signature spin on Beef Tartare. Chef Paul Qui has been recognized as Top Chef Winner, Best Chef, Southwest – James Beard Foundation, one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chef, Chef of the year by Esquire Magazine, Winner – S. Pellegrino Cooking Cup Young Chef of the Year, and with 2021 Best Hotel Restaurant in Miami – Pao by Paul Qui in Faena Hotel.

Chef Carrie Baird: Fresh off  judging duties on Season 18 of Top Chef, Top Chef Finalist (Season 15) Chef Carrie trained in classic Mediterranean, Italian and French techniques and was the former Executive Chef at Denver’s esteemed Bar Dough.  Accolades include: James Beard best chef Mountain, nominee, Top Chef finalist, season 15, Top Chef alumni judge, season 18, Winner, Beat Bobby Flay. 

Nicole Lebedvitch is a nationally known bar savant. She led the team, under the legendary Jackson Cannon, at two of Boston’s most renowned establishments, The Hawthorne (that won cocktail bar of the year) and Eastern Standard (that won restaurant cocktail bar of the year) at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans.  She also was the GM and Beverage Director of the wildly popular Yvonnes (also in Boston). She is now the co-owner and mastermind of Forget Me Not in Cherry Creek. She will be managing the VIP bar, which features a stunning lineup of House of Suntory and Beam Brand labels. Guests can further pair their experience with ice cold Stella Artois and curated wines by the glass from J Vineyards.

Desserts by Emma Nemechek, Sweetened Patisserie and Executive Pastry Chef at The Omni Interlocken Resort. Emma earned the prestigious Les Dames d’Escoffier International Legacy Award in 2018.  She was just one of six around the world to receive the 2018 LDEI Legacy Award.  Her recipes can be found regularly in magazines like 5280, Pastry Arts, and Colorado Magazine.

Quintessa Wines and Illumination (https://www.quintessa.com/) will taste our VIPs on the exclusive release of their 2018 Vintage. “There is no record in our Estate of a more gracious vintage over the last fifteen years, where there was time to carefully observe the ripening of the grapes and evolution of their flavors with such care and precision. Because of this, the 2018 Quintessa is one of the finest and purest representations that we have seen to date. It reflects a vintage with a remarkable climate, the profound understanding of its diverse soils, and an extraordinary precision in its winemaking.” The 2018 Vintage is rated between 93-99 by various wine experts’ 100-point scale.

Enjoy one of the world’s most heralded tequilas, Tears of Llorona, with Master Distiller Germán González Gorrochotegui, who is flying in from Mexico to share his work with our VIPs. Garmán is one of the most celebrated working tequileros. He is the son of prominent tequilero Guillermo González Diaz Lombardo, who created Chinaco, the first ultra-premium tequila imported into the United States. Fascinated by the family business and eager to follow in his father’s footsteps, German chose to pursue hands-on experience in tequila-making at his family’s distillery, immersing himself in every element of the tequila-making process, from working the agave fields, to spending time in the laboratory mastering the many intricacies of distillation. Today, Germán is considered to be one of the best living master tequileros by many aficionados and spirit experts. “Don’t forget to say ‘Salud,’ with your right hand and look right in the eyes of your friends, because that’s how friendship is known in Mexico.” https://tearsofllorona.com/

Field VIP Highlights

Champion Oyster Shucker, Ben Wolven of Oyster Wulff, will be dishing out premium oysters and lobster rolls. Did you know that there is a World Championship of Oyster Shucking? Ben Wolven is the Maine champion, 5x Colorado champion, and has two seventh place finishes at the World Cup of oyster opening, one in China and one in British Columbia. He will be running the oyster bar at the soon to open A5 Steakhouse in LoDo Denver.

Sushi wizard Chef Elan Wenzel, whose Element Knife Co specializes in sought-after premium knives, will be working with Seattle Fish Co to filet a sustainably-sourced whole BlueFin Tuna. VIP guests will be treated to fresh sashimi cuts as well as treats such as a Fermented Black Bean Tuna Poke Tarte with Tomato Curd. Chef Wenzel has studied extensively in Japan. After two decades in the industry, he is among the foremost experts on Japanese cutlery in Colorado. Chef Wenzel continued working as a sushi chef in Colorado at some of Denver’s best Sushi Restaurants. After having won recognition for cooking at the James Beard House in NYC with The Colorado FIVE, he continues to stay active locally, sponsoring and cooking with his peers and nationally with events like Cochon555.

Black River Caviar is from the cleanest body of water in the world, the Black River in Uruguay.  Family owned and operated for over 20 years, Black River Caviar supplies individuals, Top Chefs, Michelin-rated restaurants, 5-star resorts and cruise lines around the world.  Their team will be tasting you on some of the finest and most unique caviar on Earth! www.blackrivercaviar.com

The Forget Me Not team will be creating champagne cocktails in the field with House of Suntory brands and El Tesoro Tequila.

And, what are caviar, sashimi and lobster rolls without bubbles? Moët Hennesy will be tasting you on their champagnes which include Moët Imperial and Dom Pérignon.