Historic Larimer Square and Denver’s sunny, bluebird skies are the backdrops for the third annual Slow Food Nations, July 19-21, 2019. The festival launches with a Colorado-themed block party and wraps up with the Zero Waste Community Supper made with tasty, unused food ingredients from the weekend. What’s in between is just as impressive, with more than 100 cooking demonstrations, food tastings, family activities, block parties and talks centered around food that is clean, fair and good for all. Best of all, festival entry and numerous activities are totally free and select ticketed events start at $20. 

Honored guests Alice Waters and Ron Finley will be joined by headliners Drew Deckman, Kristen Essig, Caroline Glover, Sandor Katz, Adrian Miller, Kevin Mitchell, Davia Nelson, Urvashi Rangan, Steven Satterfield, Alex Seidel, Alon Shaya and Pierre Thiam in leading workshops, talks and demonstrations around this year’s theme “Where Tradition Meets Innovation.” 

“We love Denver,” says Anna Mulé, executive director of Slow Food USA. “Slow Food is a global movement. A weekend to gather in person and connect over delicious food energizes people to cook, grow, buy and produce better food. Denver is a perfect setting, with its collaborative community and fantastic partners."

With so many ways to experience the future of food and tantalize your taste buds with amazing new flavors, use these six handy tips to get the most out of Slow Food Nations, held in Denver for the third straight year. 

1. Stroll the Taste Marketplace

The centerpiece of the weekend is Taste Marketplacean open-air, free-entry marketplace on Saturday and Sunday that weaves through four blocks. Open to the public, it’s a chance for festival-goers to leisurely sample, shop and meet more than 75 makers and merchants while engaging in experiences throughout the market. Make sure to stop by the craft beer garden.

2. Don’t miss the block parties 

For those who love to share the bounty with other foodies, block parties are being held all three evenings of the festival along with pop-up experiences and intimate dinners in restaurants and at farms around town, including an Indigenous Foods dinner, Fermentation Feast and special evening with farming innovator Row 7. 

The first block party is Colorado Fare on Friday, which unites farmers, restaurants and purveyors to showcase the best tastes of Colorado. Food Over Fire on Saturday explores cultural traditions, innovative techniques and unexpected preparations over fire. Zero Waste Community Supper on Sunday features an all-star lineup of chefs collaborating to repurpose rescued food from the weekend. Block party tickets start at $65. 

3. Take part in hands-on tasting activities

New for 2019 is the Tasting Room, where attendees can experience the depths of flavors during guided tastings, meet with makers and learn the stories behind foods like American honey, artisanal cheeses, Fortuna Chocolate, edible insects, Fire Brew Holistic Health Tonics and more. Tickets cost $20.

The Kitchen Counter, a public stage on Larimer Square, will focus on Slow Food tastes and stories with nine cooking demonstrations and discussions throughout the weekend. The demonstrations are free, and there is a new $40 ticket option that provides a front-row seat to engage directly with the chefs. Check out these examples of Kitchen Counter-programming:

  • Senegalese chef Pierre Thiam showcases fonio, a forgotten ancient "miracle grain" from West Africa;
  • New Orleans chef Kristen Essig, Colorado chef Sheila Lucero and Sheila Bowman from Monterey Bay Seafood Watch explore sustainable seafood during A Taste of the Gulf of Mexico; and
  • Culinary historian Adrian Miller and chef Kevin Mitchell focus on flavors of the African Diaspora, share stories of how the ingredients traveled to the New World and discuss what these ingredients mean to African-Americans and Southern cuisine. 


Two of the standout options for hands-on workshops are Taste of the Yucatan Peninsula with Regina Escalante Bush, a rising young star of Mexican gastronomy, and The Art of Fermentation with Sandor Katz, who has helped catalyze a revival of the fermentation arts. With Bush, learn about the methods and history of an ancient dish, cochinita, and how her hometown of Mérida is making an impact on the international culinary scene. Tickets are $60 per workshop.


4. Visit the Family Pavilion 

Free hands-on activities like cooking, gardening and art for kids are on tap in the Family Pavilion on Saturday and Sunday. From making pollinator seed bombs to chopping up salsa, kids will learn about food from farm to fork, walk away inspired to make good food choices, and gain understanding about how these choices impact the world around them.

5. Attend engaging talks by experts

Festival summits explore tradition, innovation and current issues related to Slow Food on Saturday and Sunday and are being held at University of Colorado Denver’s College of Architecture and Planning. Summits begin with a one-hour talk followed by a 30-minute social gathering over small bites and/or beverages that relate to the talk. 

Don’t miss trailblazer and visionary chef Alice Waters and gangsta gardener, designer and artist Ron Finley discussing the intersection of guerrilla gardens, school-supported agriculture, seasonal cooking and the power of sharing food and looking at how these create social and environmental change. Or consider regenerative agriculture and the future of meat with Applegate's Gina Asoudegan and rancher Greg Gunthorp. Another highlight is respected podcaster and “The Kitchen Sisters” producer Davia Nelson’s storytelling summit about how to prepare and conduct interviews for produced radio segments and find your voice as a host. Tickets are $50 per summit 

Free outside talks at the Food for Change Tent will tell the Slow Food story, offer calls to action, and engage the public in the conversation. Reducing food waste in restaurants, the future of farming and protecting pollinators are among the many topics to be discussed.

6. Network and learn with other food movement leaders

Before the festival portion of the event kicks off on Friday evening, food movement leaders such as farmers and producers, Slow Food community leaders and organizational partners, chefs and educators will gather for the annual Slow Food Leader Summit. It’s a time to network, learn new leadership skills, explore crucial issues in the food system and inspire community efforts during a Thursday evening reception and the summit at the University of Denver on Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Leader Summit participants can continue focused meetings and informal meet-ups throughout the weekend. Registration for the summit is required. 

More about Slow Food USA

The festival is hosted by Slow Food USA, a global, grassroots nonprofit organization founded in 1989 to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, counteract the rise of fast life and combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from and how our food choices affect the world around us. Since its beginnings, Slow Food has grown into a global movement involving millions of people in more than 160 countries working to ensure everyone has access to good, clean and fair food. There are 150 chapters in the United States. 

Slow Food Nations proceeds support Slow Food USA’s initiatives, and presenting sponsors for this year’s festival are Larimer SquareVISIT DENVER and Whole Foods Market.