The Aspen Food & Wine Classic is widely recognized as one of the country’s premier food events. Now in its 37th annual incarnation, the three-day bacchanal attracts some of the biggest names in food. This year, June 14-16, will boast presentations from Martha Stewart, Ruth Reichl, Rick Bayless and locals Bobby Stuckey and Anette’s Caroline Glover — just to name a few. The days are filled with over 80 seminars and cooking classes, as well as five Grand Tastings featuring an enormous variety of world-class wines and upscale bites from over 200 participating brands.
In addition to the main event, the entire town is transformed into a food lover’s paradise — a wide variety of after-parties and affiliated events take the already monumental gathering and turn the mountain into a veritable temple of decadence. If there’s any place to rub elbows with top chefs, acclaimed cookbook authors and renowned sommeliers this would be it. This year, there’s a big bonus as Aspen ski resort will be open for skiers — the first time it’s been able to do so since 2008. Whether or not you want to shell out the dough for a ticket, it’s easy to patch together an unforgettable weekend from the many linked events.
The Lowdown: For those arriving early there are several events that kick off the weekend in style. Laws Whiskey will host a Aspen Food & Wine Kickoff Party at Hooch — the basement bar under the similarly titled sister concept Meat and Cheese. For the high rollers, there is the SommFoundation Old and Rare Tasting. Master Sommeliers Jay Fletcher, Carlton McCoy, Sabato Sagaria and Shayn Bjornholm will be pouring classic and hard to find wines from 2 – 4:30 p.m. at Casa Tua. Tickets are $300.
The Lowdown: On Friday the Celebrity Chef 5K Charity Run starts bright and early. From 7 – 9 a.m. participants are invited to come run with some of the many big shots who populate the event while raising money for Wholesome Wave and the Jacques Pépin Foundation. Registration is $35. Also, Tom and Diane Coohill will open the newest iteration of Chefs Club at the St. Regis Aspen Resort. The menu will focus on local ingredients with Southern French preparation. Heritage Fire — discussed below — will also cater the Snowmass free concert series. Titled Rustic Grind the event features unlimited food and drink for $40.
The Lowdown: Saturday sees Heritage Fire — a large scale, open air, whole animal cookout from Cochon555 — in nearby Snowmass. Being a full-scale feast of its own, the banquet provides an epicurean addition or more likely alternative to the Classic. Tickets are $150. A mentorship dinner with Rick Bayless and Jason Vincent will also be touching down at The St. Regis. The reception features cocktails from Death and Co. and hors d’oeuvres from the St. Regis Executive Chef Laurent Pillard, with the dinner itself enjoying pairings from Vineyard Brands. Tickets are $250.
The Lowdown: For anyone not already stuffed to the gills or tremendously hungover, the event closes with a Farewell Feast featuring Food & Wine’s best new restaurants. The closing celebration will feature bites from some of the most exciting spots in the country and is a truly rare opportunity to experience them all in one room Tickets are $150.
While the event certainly caters to the big spenders, it is possible to create a fantastic weekend outside of the festival. While the summer is full of excellent food fairs, The Food & Wine Classic is sure to be the most extravagant of them all. No matter how guests choose to do it, the mountain gathering is a clear reminder that Colorado is continuing to grow into one of the country’s most exciting food destinations. A full list of participants can be found here.
The Aspen Food & Wine Classic takes place June 14 – 16. General Admission tickets are $1700 and can be purchased here.