Aspen Food & Wine Classic 2013 wows, Aspen parties like rock stars #FWClassic

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The famed, and sold-out, 31st Annual FOOD & WINE Classic® in Aspen, took place June 14-16 and was everything it touts itself to be. Maybe even more amazing! The festival of food, fun and ever pouring wines and parties brings together culinary superstars like Jacques Pépin, Mario Batali, Eric Ripert, Andrew Zimmern, Tom Collicchio, Michael Voltaggio, Marcus Samuelsson, Tom Keller, all of the new 2013 Food & Wine Winning Chefs, 80 cooking demonstrations, wine seminars, panel discussions, tasting events and the famed Grand Tasting Pavilion.


All of the extravaganza took place at 8,000 feet in the very chic, posh, tony town of Aspen, Colorado, along with 5000 guests who along with airfare, hotel and 3 days admission, spend upwards to $5000 per person.

(Photo by Patti Neumann, CITYPEEK.


The scenery was breath-taking, with 360 degrees of mountains, hills, blue skies and Springtime greens everywhere. What a gorgeous setting for a weekend experience of flavors, savors and sips.


Ticket holders attended seminars around the walkable town. For example, in the St Regis Hotel: Sushi Rolling by Chef Ming Tsai, where, with his trademark sense of humor, Chef Tsai taught the class Sushi Rolling 101. Simultaneously, in an adjoining room was Mario Batali's Sicilian Summer Supper presentation where Chef Batali prepared live in the Kitchen Aid Kitchen, prepped with the finest tools and food products.


Also popped into Jose Andres' Oysters 10 Ways who showed off his most popular dishes. You too can sample his dishes, check it out at Jaleo DC. And saw Tim Love discuss and present live, a wealth of information on how to properly grill, marinade or rub your food.


Then there was the acclaimed Last Bite Dessert Bash Hosted by FOOD & WINE's own Gail Simmons, judge of Bravo's Top Chef, and featuring Johnny Iuzzini, this show stopping party was a celebration of decadence, featuring a never-ending spread of desserts, including buttercream-frosted cakes, pastries, meringues, parfaits, petit fours, tarts and galettes. All of the celebs attended the parties at night. Chefs like to play, latenight!


Then there was the Grand Tasting Pavilions. Grand indeed, located in downtown Aspen, FOOD & WINE's Grand Tasting Pavilion commands center stage from Friday through Sunday. During five consumer Grand Tastings and two Private Trade Grand Tastings, wine and food enthusiasts sipped, swirled, met wine makers one-on-one and tasted 2013's Food & Wine Top Chef winner creations while they prepared live in the the outside stages.

I greatly enjoyed meeting wine makers from around the globe from Kate MacMurray, MacMurray Ranch, Gina Gallo, EJ Gallo, Peter Waters, Kalex of New Zealand, Peruvian acclaimed Chef Ricardo Zarante and indigenous pisco cocktails.


I also so enjoyed meeting the world's only Master Beer Sommelier, Marc Stroobandt, who, along with his Stella Artois team, paired many events with food provided by DC Top Chef winner, fellow Belgium-born, Bart Vandaele who runs two hot spots in DC. One is Belga Cafe, visit July 15-21 as the town of Washignton, DC celebrates Belgium Beer Week. (Bart, Patti, Marc seen left, photo by CITYPEEK.)

Wherever you looked there was an inviting bottle of wine, a celebrity Chef, winemaker or restaurateur and a Food & wine fan, ready to partake in the foodie-wino fiesta. Seen left, is Tom Keller (photo by Patti Neumann, CITYPEEK.)  and yours truly, outside the Top Chef Stage in the Grand Pavillion. And was is G R A N D!

There is noting like roaming around the Grand Pavilion Tents surrounded by scenic mountains,  where anyone who was anyone who knows anyone in the wine and spirit world was sipping, pouring, mingling and meeting. It was heaven. I was in my element meeting the representatives from some of the best brands in the world from Napa-Sonoma-Spain, Peru, France, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and in between.

Wine was being poured all over town, whether in a ladies boutique Theory, where we found Richard Blais signing books which profit his charity battling Childhood Obesity or a hotel like The Jerome where once attendees left a Social Media workshop by famed Chefs John Besh, Chris Cosentino and Andrew Zimmern, and entered its outside courtyard, there was an elegant cocktail party awaiting us.

Then there was the Veuve Cliquot evening event at the Sky Hotel Lounge put on by the Moet Hennesey Group who were pouring champagne, Patron and Grand Marnier like there was no tomorrow. And yes, elegant nibbles were also being served.

The sponsors well-represented their brands throughout, sampling with generous gifts and tastings from American Express, Kitchen Aid, All-Clad, Maui Jim, Kettle Chips,  Wines of Peru, Stella Artois, Fiji Water (a necessary hydration tool all day), Wines of Spain, Godiva, Lexus (sorry, I didn't come home in a new car) and Patron.


Basically, for a foodie and wine lover, the Aspen Food & Wine Classic is heaven on earth. There are plenty of lite bites and sips and swirls all over town, all times of the day and night. Some parties are free, some pop-up, and most elegantly in the Tasting Tents. The team at Food & Wine does a marvelous job of orchestrating the complicated dance moves that such a conference involves. (Seen left fois gras with rhubarb jam served in the Grand Tasting Tent, Photo: CITYPEEK, Patti Neumann)


Thank you Team Food & Wine for a most fabulous, memorable 1st Food & wine Classic adventure. I do hope, it won't be my last. Cayman Islands, Autin, Pebble Beach, NYC, hmmmm?

Seen left, Food & Wine Editor In Chief:

Dana Cowin & Patti Neumann. Photo: CITYPEEK




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