Aspen, Colorado: Culinary Dream Come True

The international “who’s who” in food and wine gather in Aspen, Colorado, every year for the Aspen Food & Wine Classic sponsored by Food & Wine magazine. It’s a culinary dream come true to be able to taste and sip some of the best food and wine in the country.

The culinary superstars of this year’s 29th annual classic June 17-19 in Aspen include John Besh, Michael Symon, Michael Chiarello, Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, Susan Feniger, Ming Tsai and Jacques Pépin.

About 5,000 foodie followers from around the country pay top dollar each year to attend. They range from home food enthusiasts to business people. Restaurant owners and chefs search for new food trends and menu ideas. Homemakers and socialites seek new recipes for their dinner parties. Corporate executives come to discover new spirits and cocktails for business entertaining.

Attendees make their way through large, festive tents in the heart of scenic Aspen sampling wines and culinary delights prepared by the famous chefs. They hear the renowned chefs share their trade secrets and favorite recipes. At sit-down dinners, participants get an opportunity to discover new food and wine pairings. It’s a culinary dream come true to be able to taste and sip some of the best food and wine in the country.

I attended this prestigious Aspen food and wine event one summer as a media guest and staff writer for a restaurant industry publication. It was an unforgettable experience — from sampling food delicacies to sipping internationally famous vintage wines from around the world.

Topics of the numerous cooking demonstrations and seminars occurring simultaneously ranged from cooking secrets of great French chefs to light and healthy Chinese food to the glories of Spanish food.

I received a wealth of information for my publication, but I soon discovered that some of the chefs’ recipes were too complicated and time-consuming for my liking. However, I gathered some great cooking hints (listed below) and recipes for my own kitchen. I liked an easy recipe for scrumptious bourbon- flavored derby pie developed for Hiram Walker liquors. Another winner for me was a delicious summer entree salad from the Bordeaux Wine Bureau.

Participants are encouraged to come early and stay after the three-day weekend to enjoy the abundance of outdoor activities in colorful Colorado.

Tips from great chefs

Use only the freshest spices and herbs.
Season with sea salt and fresh-ground pepper.
Season as you begin and finish your cooking.
Taste as you cook.
Use two kinds of vinegar in salad dressings for a symphony of flavors.
Dissolve salt and pepper in the vinegar before adding the oil.
Don’t drown salad greens in heavy dressings.

If You Go

To learn more about the Food & Wine Classic or to register, log onto

Margaret Malsam is a freelance writer who lives in Westminster, Colorado.