What brings fewer crowds, renowned chefs and artists, heavenly treats, savory elixirs, demonstrations and the same pizazz as Food & Wine? The Snowmass Culinary & Arts Festival, which will occupy the top of the Village this weekend for a three-day soiree of food, art and a lineup so famous it's like stumbling through the set of Food Network. But perhaps what is even more rewarding than seeing these national faces up close and personal, is witnessing a handful of our local chefs side by side, whipping up dishes that easily pair with the paws of the big dogs.A familiar face to look out for: Chef Juan Martinez of the Snowmass Club, who will bring seasonal favorites to the much anticipated Palette of Pairings on Saturday. Snowmass Sun: What dish do you plan to bring to the festival this year?Juan Martinez: We will be preparing a chilled pea soup with fresh pea blossoms and our house smoked salmon with sliced cucumbers.SS: How long have you been with the Snowmass Club and what is your background in cooking?JM: I have been with the Snowmass Club since the spring of 2011. Before that I was the executive banquet chef for the Little Nell and a sous chef for Ajax Tavern. I have worked as a chef in Aspen; Boulder; Vail; South Bend, Ind.; and several restaurants in my home state of Michigan; and am blessed to have worked with a number of talented and well-known chefs along my career path. SS: How would you describe your approach in the kitchen?JM: We tend to go with a fusion approach, bringing seasonal and local ingredients to the table whenever possible. Other than that I like having a balance in my dishes, whether it be sweet and savory, salty and sweet or sweet and sour. I believe that if you bring a balance to the dish with wide flavors it not only makes sense, but it makes mouths happy too.SS: What are your favorite ingredients to use in the kitchen this time of year?JM: I always have fresh basil in stock, especially during the summer months. Peaches and cherries are great right now, as well as fresh tomatoes and mushrooms. SS: Have you been to the Snowmass Culinary Festival in years past? If so, what do you look forward to most?JM: We went to the festival last year, which was definitely well received. It is always nice to get out and show off our menu, and to also let people know that the Snowmass Club is not just a private club, but also a restaurant that is open to the public year-round.
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