The Food & Wine Classic is known for its demos, parties, and Best New Chefs dinner. But perhaps most of all, it's famous for the Grand Tasting, a food and wine free-for-all that takes place twice a day under an expansive tent in downtown Aspen. It's in the midst of this bacchanal that one discovers new restaurants, food trends, and wine labels, both good and bad. Here are a few of my favorite selections from this year's event.
"How do you manage to cook all this food and still look so great?" she asked. The mother of Jade Marie, now 2 — who looked casual chic in a boatneck tee and cuffed jeans — took some time to talk about how she stays so slim and trim. Find out her secrets after the jump.
They chose three ingredients: merguez sausage, garbanzo beans, and harissa, and each made a distinctly different dish. Tom's was the chef's way: an elaborate preparation that involved homemade sausage, stuffed leg of lamb, and fresh garbanzo beans. Gail created something more accessible to the home cook with store-bought sausage and canned garbanzos. As they cooked, they chatted; to see some tips I picked up from Tom and Gail, read more
- Food & Wine's editor-in-chief, Dana Cowin, reveals her top five Aspen memories. — Eatocracy
- An inside look at the opening event that featured Jen Carroll, Eli Kirshtein, and the Voltaggios. — Huffington Post Food
- Q&A with some of the festival's most prestigious chefs. — Metromix New York
- Tom Colicchio and restaurateur Joe Bastianich perform a Paul Simon song. — Eater NY
- A tour of the best parties. — Plum TV
- One hundred photos that highlight the event. — Skollie Magazine
Nothing at the Classic induces more excitement than Saturday night's big ticket, the Best New Chefs Dinner. It was my favorite event last year for a multitude of reasons: superb flavor combinations, a jaw-dropping view of the mountains at sunset, fantastic energy, and the best people-watching in the world. The annual by-invitation-only event was opened up to the public this year, which meant lots of crowds, but the opportunity to meet and eat with trendsetters still made it all worthwhile. Here, you'll get to know this year's Best New Chefs and their signature dishes.
One of those booths came from Mercadito, a group of restaurants in New York, Chicago, and Miami serving Southern Mexican taqueria-style specialties. Not only did they offer tacos filled with layers of flavor, but they also served them accompanied with a refreshing pepino el pyu cocktail, their update on a margarita.
Talk about a perfect pairing: the cooling essence of cucumber mixed with a punch of lemon was a welcome contrast to the ultraspicy pork taco topped with chile de arbol coleslaw. Since I can't wait to re-create it at home, I'm sharing the recipe with you, too. Don't skimp on the cumin salt rim, which adds a smoky, crunchy finish to every sip. For the recipe, read on.
Before the interested eyes of a group of select journalists, Michael turned frozen cubes of cream cheese into a melt-in-your-mouth snow and Bryan cut slices of perfectly cooked harissa lamb, fresh out of vacuum-packed plastic baggies.
To take a closer look at the amazing three-course meal, check out all of my photos after the break.
While Keller demonstrated the versatility of sweet onion tapenade, cured lemons, and mushroom conserva, he revealed his sense of humor when he spoke about being in the first group of Best New Chefs 22 years ago, preparing a lobster dish that was served in a resident's home. "After 600 lobsters, I'm sure that home was never the same again," he joked. The chef also offered plenty of useful advice. To check it out, keep reading.
Before we head out to the sunny Rockies, we'll be checking out San Francisco's hottest young chefs at the StarChefs Rising Stars Revue. Where will you be this week? Let us know in the comments below!
- San Francisco, CA: StarChefs Rising Stars Revue — June 16
- Fort Wayne, IN: BBQ Ribfest — June 17-20
- National Harbor, MD: Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival — June 18-19
- Aspen, CO: Food & Wine Classic in Aspen — June 18-20
- Glenwood Springs, CO: Strawberry Days — June 18-20
- Salem, OR: Wine, Chocolate & More — June 18-20
- Kenmore, WA: Washington Brewers Festival — June 18-20
- Clayton, NY: The Great New York State Food & Wine Festival — June 18-20
- Ventura, CA: Salute! Beer Festival — June 19
- Philadelphia, PA: Taste of the Nation Philadelphia — June 21