We just wrapped up another unforgettable year at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, and while there were countless memories, our editors have a few of the weekend's highlights. Watch our video to hear about the best parties, favorite chef interviews, and incredible dishes, then read all of our Aspen coverage.
Top Chef Michael Voltaggio's a busy man, but he managed to find time to make a showing at the Taste event in Los Angeles over the weekend. He took time out from his schedule to talk details about coauthoring a new cookbook, Volt Ink., with his brother Bryan; his forthcoming restaurant, Ink., which will showcase modern Los Angeles cuisine; his surprising new pop-up shop, Ink.Sack ("it was a surprise to me," he says); and why the microwave is so hot right now.
- Serve an Irish breakfast this weekend.
- Serve an Irish breakfast this weekend. — Chow
- Giant whoopie pie pan: love it or hate it? — Baking Bites
- A table at Top Chef's restaurant wars is up for bid in a charity auction. — Eater
- Make pasta e broccoli for dinner tonight. — Serious Eats
- Michael Voltaggio and Ludo Lefebvre prove they've paid their dues as chefs. — Daily Dish
- Where to eat bone marrow in San Francisco. — Grub Street SF
- Inside the making of an ice cream cookbook. — The Feast SF
- Food bloggers: learn how to use Google recipes to your advantage. — Huffington Post Food
- If you're heading to SXSW, here are Austin's top eateries. — ZagatBuzz
Tongs: they might not sound like the subject of titillating conversation, but in the culinary world, they're actually quite a contentious topic. On the Top Chef DC finale, Michael Voltaggio described them as "white trash," and Momofuku's David Chang has known to have had an outburst or two about the utensil: cooking with them, he explained to The New Yorker, displays "disrespect for the entire restaurant."
David Chang, call me an irreverent home cook, but with all due respect, I'll use my tongs all day long. Tongs in the kitchen: are they trashy or classy?
- A look back at Michael Voltaggio's final dinner service.
- A look back at Michael Voltaggio's final dinner service. — Los Angeles Times
- Cupcakes have fueled New York City's economy.— Wall Street Journal
- Getting to know the five most popular rib cuts. — Chicago Tribune
- Homemade condiments with a summertime twist. — San Francisco Chronicle
- Behind the scenes at a pickling party. — Boston Globe
- Must make: savory ham and Gruyere bread. — New York Times
- Selecting a smoker? Here's what to look for. — Washington Post
The final Aspen Food & Wine event is the Classic Quickfire, a timed cooking competition between the most recent Top Chef winner and an acclaimed chef (such as Jacques Pepin). This year, Top Chef champion Michael Voltaggio was up against stiff competition: Top Chef Masters winner Rick Bayless!
Host Sissy Biggers announced the theme was "sexy vegetables." Just like on the show, the two contenders drew knives to determine their main ingredients: Rick drew "surf," which meant whole lobsters, while Michael took "turf," which equated to rack of lamb.
They were also given leftover ingredients from previous cooking demos to work with and one sous chef each (Michael's was the fun and feisty actress Allison Janney). Rick Bayless stunned the judges with a roasted tomatillo salsa-topped lobster and potato course; meanwhile, Michael Voltaggio wowed the crowd with his frozen sangria starter and seared lamb loin and eggplant crostini with tomato seed "caviar."
See the two chefs in action — and find out the winner of the quickfire! — when you read on.
For me, one of the highlights of the Food & Wine Classic was a special lunch created by Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio and his brother Bryan. The luncheon was hosted by Williams-Sonoma in the sleek Aspen eatery N9NE Steakhouse. While it was sunny and hot outside, the cool interior of the underground restaurant was the perfect backdrop to the Voltaggio brothers' modern menu. Using products from a new line that's to be released by Williams-Sonoma this Fall, the brothers demonstrated molecular gastronomy techniques that involved sous vide machines, smoking guns, and liquid nitrogen.
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.
Photo courtesy of Bravo
Just before the winner of Top Chef Las Vegas was crowned, Bryan and Michael Voltaggio teamed up to launch a new website, VoltaggioBrothers.com. By Christmas, they'd announced plans for a new video series with media company EQAL. Wrote Bryan: "Being forced to cook something in 20 minutes with bizarre ingredients is fun, but not what we normally do in our restaurants. These videos will give you a better sense about our culinary point of view and our passion for cooking."
Their first webisode, titled "Deconstructing the Voltaggio Brothers," debuted yesterday. While we didn't see any demos, we did learn, in between snippets of the brothers making brioches and pop rock lollipops, that Michael excels at poetry, and Bryan would've been a landscaper in another life. Take a look when you read more