Cooking School of Aspen/The Cottage Aspen |

Cooking School of Aspen/The Cottage Aspen

story by Jeanne McGovern photos by Anna Stonehouse
The details: 305 E. Hopkins Ave. • 970-920-2002 •  

Rob Ittner isn’t afraid to take a risk. But opening The Cottage Aspen in the historic building nestled in front of his Rustique Bistro and above his Cooking School of Aspen venue seemed like a no-brainer.

“It’s a marquis space; the perfect cornerstone to what we do here,” Ittner says.

In fact, the Cottage concept will meld perfectly with his two other culinary ventures as it serves as a venue for small parties (think rehearsal dinners), special events (wine tastings, anyone?) and other creative pursuits (a pop-up creperie is one possibility).

Of course, the Cottage itself is worth a visit. A vintage building, Ittner’s team has updated it to include stunning pieces of art (that will rotate seasonally), a small but workable kitchen space for food prep and demo classes, and a seating plan that can be modified to fit any need — and with the outdoor patio just outside the door (and shared with Rustique) — the vibe flows perfectly. It’s kind of like a French villa.

“We love the idea of all of these place complementing each other,” Ittner says. “There is really something for every type of event.”

Along those lines, the Cooking School of Aspen continues to sizzle this summer.

“The big message we want to share, which tends to be overshadowed a little by some of the TV celebrity stuff about cooking schools — is that cooking schools can be a lot of different things,” says Ittner.

In fact, the Cooking School of Aspen is much a special event venue as it is a cooking school in the traditional sense. Which is perfect in a town like Aspen, where it can be hard to find the perfect sized venue for certain special events.

“What we offer is a culinarily driven, unique venue for a party or group size that is not available,” he explains. “Elsewhere you might be able to find something for a group of 50 to 120, but in Aspen, that’s too much of an awkward size to buy out a restaurant and too small to take a banquet room or ballroom …

“And who wants to be in ballroom when could have chefs in front of you preparing during the dinner. We’re far more memorable.”

Prices: Varies

Ambience: Sleek demonstration kitchen, lively crowds, professional chefs and service in the Cooking School; bright, airy and modern event space in a historic building at the Cottage Aspen

Signature dishes: depends on course/event

Not to Miss: The Mindful Vine dinner series at the Cottage; Exhibiting fine art photographer Guadalupe Laiz at the Cottage through September; Any pop-up event at  the Cottage (possibilities include weekend crepes, evening wine tastings, art shows and more)


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