21 Years of Food & Wine, part 1 | AspenTimes.com

21 Years of Food & Wine, part 1

May Eynon

The 21st annual Food & Wine Magazine Classic at Aspen was another whirlwind weekend of wining and dining at Wagner Park.Celebrity chefs, including Roy Yamaguchi, Bobby Flay and Norman Van Aken, served up savory dishes for the Grand Tastings and competed in the Sunday favorite “Classic Cook-Off” hosted by Sissy Biggers. The 20-minute Cook-Off involved two sets of chefs vying for the audience’s vote as they prepared a meal using mystery ingredients such as Spam, Twinkies and frozen okra. In the first of two Cook-Offs, Yamaguchi was paired with actor Kevin Costner, but lost to Van Aken and his sous chef by a slight margin.Wine connoisseurs, including the likes of Joshua Wesson, Danny Meyer and Kevin Zraley, hosted seminars to full houses. Attendees flocked to the various hotels around town for morning and afternoon colloquiums. “We were really under the gun,” said Mountain Chalet owner Ralph Melville of his hotel’s construction deadline. The final touches to the new top-floor addition were completed on Friday morning, just in time for the first seminar.Summer sundresses, stylish sunglasses and brightly colored attire appeared for the June weather as locals, visitors and second-home owners arrived at the Classic dressed in style.”I just flew in last night,” said local Billy Zuelke, who came straight to Wagner Park from his annual off-season trip to Maui. “I never miss Food & Wine.”Also recently transported back to town was Dr. Jon Gibans, who summited Mt. Everest on May 30.”I’m still on cloud 29,035,” he said, referring to the elevation of the world’s highest mountain. “It’s great to be back.”Complementing the wine and champagne were flavored vodka, Fiji water, ethnic dishes, decadent desserts, almonds, California raisins and other delectable items offered throughout the tents.”I’m working out all next week,” said resident Lori Burnstine as she swilled an Absolut and ginger ale in the courtyard. “I’m not thinking about it right now.”Fund-raising events throughout the Classic surpassed expectations as generous bids soared through the roof. In the Kitchen Aid corner of one tent, an auction for a food processor bearing Bobby Flay’s autograph commanded more than $2,000.A flattered Flay signed the appliance for the admiring Christin Eiler of Atlanta.”Let’s not tell my husband how much I paid for this,” she said. “He might not understand.”To be continued …

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