People looking for a bite to eat at the upcoming Colorado State Fair can get a sneak preview of the culinary delights — including birria tacos, vegan corn dogs, po’ boys and ramen — coming to the Fuel & Iron Food Hall when it opens in downtown Pueblo.
Four of the five restaurateurs that will soon inhabit the food hall will take turns running the Fuel & Iron food booth at the fair starting Aug. 26. The Fuel & Iron concession stall is located on the fairgrounds’ Main Street right by the Pepsi stage.
Food hall patrons will have to wait until the hall’s fall opening to try the spicy offerings of Diavolo Pueblo Hot Chicken, as its chefs also run Bingo Burger and will be catering the fair this year, said Mo Montgomery, culinary director for the Fuel & Iron project.
“Most of these chiefs grew up in Pueblo and went to the state fair their whole lives. Now to debut their concepts at the state fair is like a childhood dream come true,” Montgomery said.
In fact, the Fuel & Iron Food Hall will be showcasing three first-time restaurateurs and three seasoned chefs. In addition to the five restaurants, there will be a Solar Roast Coffee and Nick’s Dairy Cream outlet run by Mike Hartkop, owner of both businesses.
“I don’t think we could have done a better job hitting the mix of talented and budding restaurateurs. It is a nice blend,” said Nathan Stern, a real estate developer who is heading the Fuel & Iron project with business partner Zach Cytryn.
More Union Avenue news:New life breathed into historic Pueblo buildings on Union
Breaking down of the Fuel & Iron state fair schedule
Kicking off the food booth will be Steel City Crescent Kitchen Aug. 26-27. They will offer three different po’boy sandwiches with a Cajun flare.
Mosh Ramen is set to offer its signature ramen as well as a pork belly banh mi Vietnamese sandwich Aug. 28-30.
The Cutting Board, a plant-based food purveyor, will showcase its vegan corn dogs, green chile fries and fried Oreos Aug. 31 through Sept. 2. “The batter looks amazing,” Montgomery said of the corn dogs.
Birria tacos featuring melted cheese and consommé created by Jose Avila for his new restaurant, Kanastakos, will be among the dishes that finish the booth’s fair offerings Sept. 3-5. Avila also will offer a Colorado striped bass ceviche tostada.
Apprenticeship program will help cultivate job skills
Montgomery, who most recently served as the culinary arts program director at Pueblo Community College until the program was discontinued this year, will continue her work in education. She also will be heading up a Fuel & Iron apprenticeship program.
“We got a grant from the nonprofit Gates Foundation Generations Schools program. We are creating a program that translates to jobs skills and hope to launch it next fall,” Montgomery said.
The program will cover culinary arts, agriculture and consumer goods packaging. Along with the Fuel & Iron urban farm, which is currently being designed thanks to a Palmer Land Conservancy grant, the program will incorporate the use of a commercial kitchen at 1745 N. Erie.
The kitchen will provide an instructional environment for apprentices and a space where entrepreneurs can create packaged products for sale.
“The entrepreneur of tomorrow has to focus on more than one thing,” Stern said.
In the culinary arts, a business developer may have to be able to grow produce on a small farm or in a greenhouse, create a product and package the product for sale.
“They may also run a business like a bed and breakfast. Between all those multifaceted approaches they can make a pretty good living,” Stern said.
To find out more, go to fuelandironpueblo.com.
More food news:Unwind with a beer and a book at Analogue Bar in Downtown Pueblo
Chieftain reporter Tracy Harmon covers business news. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at twitter.com/tracywumps.