Saturday, July 12, 2014

Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic - The Memories

Well folks, that's it. I'm old! The birthday festivities were beyond incredible, and the fun continued into the 4th of July weekend. After several weeks of travel, fun and lots of great food, it is back to work and back to blogging!

I hope everyone enjoyed the 30/30 countdown on Kettler Cuisine! It was such a blast to put together and I have many people to thank, including several of the restaurants for making the food so photogenic and delicious (Kimbap and Trophy). For a full recap of my favorites, visit the Favorites tab above or go here.

While 30/30 was going on, I went to the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen to celebrate my big birthday with a dear friend!! Oh yea, it was beyond fantastic! The town of Aspen is a beautiful spot on its own, then sprinkle in top chefs, wineries and phenomenal food, and you have yourself one heck of a destination. I have so much to share that I will break it up into a few posts not to overwhelm everyone (and myself).

Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic - The Memories

First and foremost, the memories! I was fortunate enough to share this experience with one of my closest friends, who just so happens to live 3000 miles away from me! But, we don't let distance, three time zones and busy lives interfere with our friendship. We met in Denver and hopped on a small plane up to Aspen. Everyone on our flight was heading to the Classic, including Michael Chiarello and a Tequilla distillery (yes, the entire flight smelled like Agave tequila). No complaining here :)

Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic - The Memories

After a very quick (and intense) landing, we were greeted with blue skies and huge mountain backdrops. After checking in to the hotel and the Classic, we explored the adorable and beautiful town of Aspen.

Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic - The MemoriesAspen FOOD & WINE Classic - The Memories

The three-day festival didn't disappoint. We met chefs, winemakers, restaurateurs, celebrities and many, many fun (and slightly drunk) people. It will be hard to recap everything, but here are some of my favorite and most memorable experiences...

Cooking and Meeting Marcus Sameulsson
Probably one of the most vibrant and vivacious celebrity chefs there, Marcus Sameulsson hosted a cooking session on "The Whole Nine Yards," using all parts of a chicken. This was our very first session and experience at the Classic, so it set the bar very high!

Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic - The Memories

He is extremely personable and an incredible talent in the kitchen. I was able to sneak a taste of several of his dishes, including his chicken soup!

Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic - The Memories
I'm excited for Marcus' soup!

Meeting Ali Larter
I told you there were celebrities everywhere! I met her, got a signed cookbook, AND talked about my blog with her. She interviewed Giada De Laurentiis during a session on the second morning and really surprised us with her wit, intelligence and strong female power! It was great to see a fellow blogger that also has a passion for entertaining and cooking, along with a full time job (and children).

Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic - The Memories
Giddy after chatting with Ali Larter

The Tasting Tent
Oh, the Tasting Tent! The things in this tent! We have never experienced such a concentrated location of inventive, delicious and satiating food. Then there was all the wine, and more wine, and even more wine. We had to pace ourselves....

Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic - The Memories

The Tasting Tent opened twice a day for 2 hours. The first run was a learning experience, we were trying to get through as fast and as efficiently as possible. By the second run, we were experts. We focused on specific sections and took our time going through, getting to know some of the vendors and the back story of how they got there. (This also helped us from drinking too much too quickly).

Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic - The Memories
My best bud and I on the last run of the Tasting Tent.

Hugh Acheson's passion for Local
This guy is awesome! I don't have any other elequent descriptions other than he rocks! Even though he was born in Canada, he has earned a status among some of the top Southern chefs. He doesn't just cook Southern cuisine, but he immerses himself in it and constantly educates himself and others on the history, techniques and ingredients. The best thing about this guy, besides his laundry list of accolades and awards, is that he fully supports Local! He buys local, he eats local, he promotes local in pretty much all he does.

"Small steps will win this race and the first small steps are about your local sphere."
- Hugh Acheson

Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic - The Memories
Hugh Acheson, an accomplished and very friendly Southern Chef

Celebrity Sightings!!!
Oh, there were many. Mostly celebrity chefs like Giada De Laurentiis, Richard Blais, Andrew Zimmern (think Bizarre Foods), Gail Simmons, Michael Chiarello, Tom Colicchio, Jacques P├ępin, Curtis Stone, Scott Conant, Johnny Iuzzini (think sweet treats), and just about every Top Chef contestant and winner you can think of! But I also saw and met Stephen Merchant...hilarious!!

Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic - The Memories
The Hubby was a bit jealous on this one! I was so nervous to meet him :)

Overall it was an amazing trip!! We ate a lot....

And drank a lot....

But most of all, we had a great time together...

Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic - The Memories

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