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Kitchen regime change can do interesting things to a restaurant. But Sandra Vanderstoep, owner of Café 36 at the FAC (30 W. Dale St., csfineartscenter.org), says executive chef Larissa Warner succeeding Ben Hoffer "really has worked perfect."

"While Ben had a more wild game-oriented style, Larissa has spent time in a more continental setting," says Vanderstoep. "She worked in Switzerland for a period of time and brings what I could call an interesting continental twist. Same passion for detail, though, and for how her guests are responding to their meal."

Warner has been on board at Café 36 since 2008, working most recently as sous chef, and is tentatively projected to release a new menu in March.

Gumbo and beads

Mardi Gras always inspires special events annually, like the Manitou Springs Carnivale Parade & Mumbo Jumbo Gumbo Cook-Off; tastings ($2) of said gumbo begin at 11 a.m., Saturday in Soda Springs Park. Explore Manitou Springs eateries that day and find deals like a special Cajun menu at the Stagecoach Inn (702 Manitou Ave., stagecoachinn.com) from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with drink deals. On Fat Tuesday itself (Feb. 16), Front Range Barbeque (2330 W. Colorado Ave., frbbq.com) will host its fifth annual Mardi Gras party beginning at 5 p.m., featuring a special Cajun/Creole menu and drink specials. Bars all over the city are sure to have specials that day as well.

À la carte

Canvas Café at Venue 515 (515 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-1861 ext. 11) will host its third Thursday "Raw Fusion" dinner and a movie night from 6:30 to 9 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 18. Chevy Lee Raw Foods will not cook an avocado-hemp-seed salad with Asian dressing, a personal pesto pizza on a pumpkin-seed-and-buckwheat crust, and a winter fruit compote trifle with hazelnut granola. Seats ($30, or $35 with wine) must be reserved by Monday.

• The sixth annual Firkin Rendezvous will take place from 1 to 5 p.m., Feb. 20 at Bristol Brewing Co. (1647 S. Tejon St., bristolbrewing.com) and feature unique cask ales from 28 Colorado microbreweries next to food samples from five local eateries. Tickets are $35 ($30 in advance).

• At the five-course Emilio Bulfon Passport to Friuli Wine Dinner from 6 to 9 p.m., Feb. 23 at Pizzeria Rustica (2527 W. Colorado Ave., 632-8121), you'll learn the history of Friulian vine varietals, some rediscovered from Roman times; $49 (plus tax/tip) seats benefit Haitian orphans.

  • New chef at Café 36, Mardi Gras fun, upcoming Firkin Rendezvous and more.

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