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Preparing for Your Holiday Feast

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Justin Beach

Jon Stone

Media Relations Manager

Jon Stone

Executive chef suggests a side dish to dazzle your guests

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It’s that time of year. Many of us are looking online and through cookbooks for ideas of what to prepare for our holiday meal. Once again, in search of culinary inspiration, we have turned to Timothy Downs, executive chef at Knoebel Events in the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business.

Located inside the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management, Knoebel Events hosts hundreds of occasions each year, ranging from corporate events to wedding receptions. Inside the Meyer Family Kitchen, Downs leads a student staff and a team of hospitality veterans.

Knoebel Events does more than $1 million in business each year. Clients can order from a set menu, make special requests and even have the kitchen prepare a family recipe.

For this holiday season, Downs has created a new dish: sweet potato and farro risotto. In this video, Downs shows us how it’s prepared:

This dish can be prepared in two different ways. You can follow the recipe, or, with sustainability in mind, you can utilize some of the food left over after you are done prepping for your feast. Sustainability is often far easier to discuss than to implement, but with this recipe, it requires almost no additional effort. Just add your extra veggies to the mix and give this dish your own special twist.


  • 3 cups raw farro cooked with 6 cups of water
  • 2 medium/large sweet potatoes
  • 5 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 3 cups kale rough chopped
  • 2 cups green beans (1/4-inch pieces)
  • 1.5 cups of white wine
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • 1½ cups parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup chiffonade basil
  • 1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 cup dried sweet cranberries
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook the farro ahead of time (perhaps even the day before your meal). Do this by boiling water with a pinch of salt and drop the farro in until the liquid is gone. The ratio can be 1 part faro to 2.5 or 2 parts water. Downs likes to undercook it slightly, as it will absorb some of the liquid as the cook completes the recipe, so he prefers a ratio of 1 part farro to 2 parts water.
  2. Peel and small dice the sweet potato. Coat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at 350 degrees for 20–30 minutes or until the potato is just turning soft and has a good color. This can be done ahead of time as well, even the day before.
  3. At this point, make sure all other ingredients are ready to go. This dish comes together quickly.
  4. Heat sauté pan to a moderate heat and add oil until sizzle. Add garlic and sauté just before it starts to turn brown. 
  5. Add onions and diced green beans. Cook and stir occasionally until onions are translucent.
  6. Toss in sweet potatoes to heat through. Deglaze the pan with white wine and cook until almost all the liquid is gone. 
  7. Add cooked farro and allow to sizzle for 3–4 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  8. Add heavy cream and cook until about 2/3 of the liquid is gone. 
  9. Add parmesan, kale, parsley, salt and pepper. Turn off heat and just incorporate these last ingredients until the cheese is melted.
  10. Display on a platter and garnish with pumpkin seeds, cranberries and goat cheese.


Knoebel Events

This dish was displayed with bacon wrapped green beans around the edges for a nice garnish.


  • Bacon sliced in half length-wise
  • Appropriate portion of green beans cut to similar length (I used the ends for the faro)
  • Olive oil
  • Brown sugar
  • Salt and Pepper


  1. Wrap green beans with a slice of bacon
  2. Cook bacon wrapped green beans for about 15-20 minutes or until the bacon is done
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a little brown sugar, salt and pepper

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