Aspen Untucked: A missed Food & Wine

by Barbara Platts
Aspen Untucked
Guests gather in one of the tens for the Food and Wine Classic during the first Grand Tasting of the day on Saturday in Aspen.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times

I have a confession to make: I was out of town for the Food & Wine Classic this year.

Now, before anyone revokes my Aspen local card, let me make this clear: I was not happy to miss what I consider to be one of the most festive weekends in Aspen all year long. The level of FOMO (fear of missing out) it provoked in me was rough, to say the least. Especially because I’ve always been an avid participator in this weekend since moving to Aspen after college.

The first year I moved to town, I enjoyed the festivities as a volunteer, working two days in the Grand Tasting event and getting to participate as an attendee on the third. The second year I worked a table in the tent for a high-end beef company, serving delicious samples to guests while wearing a cowgirl outfit. Since then, I’ve been able to attend as a member of the press. Each year the weekend has only increased in fun and indulgence. It’s not just about the official Food & Wine magazine events, but all of the parties, tastings and samplings around it, as well. It’s hard to walk down a street without seeing something food and wine related to participate in.

I’ve always loved Aspen’s Food & Wine weekend immensely, and spending time away from the haze this year reminded me why that is. For me, the best part of this three-day celebration is the Aspen locals. From Thursday to Monday of last week, my Facebook and Instagram feeds were stuffed full of friends and acquaintances enjoying the parties, the delicious food and, of course, the wine. While all of these posts did make me jealous, they also reminded me of the many good times the weekend brings. And it’s not because of the celebrity chefs or the free booze (though these things certainly are appreciated); it’s because of the people I got to celebrate with, from fellow volunteers in my first year to fellow journalists last year.

Food & Wine weekend is essentially one giant adult playground from Snowmass to Aspen. While there are many out-of-towners who come in to enjoy it, I think the local enthusiasm is really what makes it special. Unlike X Games where most of us locals roll our eyes and try to plan a trip out of town for the weekend, Food & Wine is a time that most of us look forward to with childlike glee. We all get dressed up to hit the parties thrown by all of the different sponsors. No matter one’s status or credentials, it seems like just about every local finds their way into the Grand Tasting tent, most of the time on Sunday once many of the paying attendees have headed home and bestowed their passes on more budget-conscious appreciators.

Another local favorite is Cochon555’s Heritage Fire in Snowmass, which I wrote about in last week’s column. There’s never been a better excuse to go past the roundabout. This party brings in chefs from all over the country, especially from the Front Range, but many of the attendees are from the Aspen area. Same goes for the Wine at the Mine party. This popular happening takes place at Smuggler Mine and attracts many out-of-towners, but locals also are a common fixture. They can be seen on the dance floor, sampling the food and drinking cans of Infinite Monkey Theorem wine.

I admire all of my fellow locals for their endurance over this weekend. These three days show just how rowdy and rambunctious we all can be. However, I think these days also show that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We’re OK with getting a bit goofy and indulgent when duty calls. I think it’s this carefree spirit that first made me fall in love with Aspen as an adult, and I’m glad it’s still alive and well, even if I don’t always get to participate in it.

So, cheers to all of the locals out there. I was sad to miss the legendary weekend this year, but I’m certain the rest of you kept the party going strong. Until next year!

Barbara Platts tries not to take herself too seriously. Reach her at or on Twitter @BarbaraPlatts.

Aspen Times Weekly

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