The 2012 Aspen Food & Wine Classic celebrated its 30th year with celebrity chefs, seminars, cooking demonstrations, and a Grand Market (ABOVE) filled with more food and drink than any hungry crowd could consume. The weather was thoroughly cooperative, with the sun shining over the mountains and on the participants of the festivities, which kicked off with a 5K charity run with Bobby Flay. The Classic culminated with an anniversary party feast prepared by Mario Batali, José Andrés, and Michel Nischan, as well as a concert by Elvis Costello. Here, we recap favorite Classic events and a few exclusive, invite-only celebrations.
José Andrés and Wines from Spain Present a Spanish Barbecue
Chef José Andrés and Wines from Spain set up shop in a mountain top mansion (currently at the asking price of $28 million) for a star-studded Spanish barbecue at “Casa Jose.” Marcus Samuelsson, Andrew Zimmern, Giada de Laurentiis, and Tom Colicchio were among the chefs feasting on chorizo, skirt steak, pork sliders, and more at the massive grill-out. To drink, there was an unending supply of Spanish wine and pitch-perfect whisky sours courtesy of The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas.
Stella Artois Belgian Beer Seminar
Chef and owner of Mirabelle Restaurant, Daniel Joly, who is originally from Brussels, created a unique Belgian beer pairing for an invite-only luncheon. In addition to an abundance of Stella Artois, Hoegaarden, Leffe Blonde, and Leffe Brune, cuisine ranged from lobster and scallops to sushi to plump gnocchi with lamb to crepes stuffed with shredded chicken (ABOVE). A decadent chocolate dessert and miniature crème brûlées rounded out the fabulous lunch.
Kate Krader and Belvedere Vodka Afterparty Food & Wine restaurant editor Kate Krader and Belvedere Vodka hosted an afterparty at Casa Tua that was one of the hottest invites of the Classic. The hip private club was packed to the gills, with revelers enjoying hors d’oeuvres, dancing, and Belvedere cocktails created by the brand’s head of spirits and mixology, Claire Smith. The Belvedere Pineapple Mary (Belvedere Bloody Mary, pineapple juice, lime juice, paprika, orange bitters) and the Belvedere Lemon Tea Punch (Belvedere Lemon Tea, sherbet, black tea, lemon juice) were the most popular cocktails of the evening.
Whole Foods Market Fishmonger Face-Off
Whole Foods Market put together a unique event that combined fun and education for one of the most talked-about events of this year’s Food & Wine Classic. Chef John Besh emceed as 11 of the market giant’s top fishmongers competed for bragging rights. Local Highlands Ranch Whole Foods Market fishmonger Bob “The Fish Guy” Reany (a 40-year veteran of the trade) took the trophy. Top Chef winner Paul Qui served as judge while guests tasted fish hors d’oeuvres like swordfish shawarma with pickled summer vegetables on warm pita and rockfish with chanterelle mushrooms and blue crab.
Infinite Monkey Theorem Swine at the Mine Party
The most unique party of the Aspen Food & Wine Classic was definitely Swine at the Mine. Held atop Smuggler Mountain, guests enjoyed pork six ways by Masterpiece Deli and bacon and cherry ice cream made with liquid nitrogen before their very eyes. Temporary tattoos and mine tours were given and plenty of Infinite Monkey wine was on hand, including the popular rosé in a can.
Carte Blanche Portfolio Wine Tasting Aspen Peak teamed with Carte Blanche Wines for an afternoon of wine, song, and food. Master sommelier Richard Betts' 11-year-old daughter Bella, a singer/songwriter who recently recorded her first album, mesmerized guests while chef Alison Richman paired delicacies such as lobster rolls and short rib sandwiches with six Carte Blanche wines. The 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and 2009 Sandstone Seven Rhone White Wine were among the biggest hits. Winemaker Nicholas Allen (RIGHT) was on hand, as were some of Aspen’s most well known residents, such as singer John Oates.