Aspen Food & Wine sells out early |

Aspen Food & Wine sells out early

Andre SalvailThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – For the first time since 2008, the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen has sold out early.”We’re happily sold out and kind of back to where we were before the recession,” said Devin Padgett, producer of special projects for Food & Wine magazine. “We enjoyed early sellouts year after year until 2009, when, along with the rest of the world, things changed and we had to work a little harder to achieve what we’d call soft sellouts.”This event, which is in its 30th year, will take place June 15 through 17. Aspen hotel bookings for the weekend stand at 85 percent of full occupancy, according to Bill Tomcich, president of reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass.Padgett said attendance for the Food & Wine Classic has been capped at 5,000 since 1996. The figure includes full-pass holders, sponsors, exhibitors, volunteers, special guests and media. The price of a full pass this year was $1,185.Before the recession, the event typically sold out in early February, he said.”We really enjoyed that success for a lot of consecutive years, and everybody got used to it,” Padgett said. “Food & Wine’s sellout became the name of the game. It worked in everybody’s favor. It was always a great indicator of the summer to come in Aspen. We never thought about selling out – it just became part of who we were.”The three-day weekend will feature a multitude of cooking demonstrations, interactive seminars, wine tastings, food samplings, panel discussions and classes on the art of pairing food and wine. The Grand Tasting Pavilion will involve more than 300 food purveyors, winemakers, craft brewers and distillers.World-class chefs expected to participate include John Besh, Jacques Ppin, Mario Batali, Ming Tsai, Michael Symon and Tom Colicchio.New to the event this year will be a concert at the Benedict Music Tent at Aspen Meadows Resort, home of the Aspen Institute, near the city’s West End neighborhood. Padgett said an announcement about who’s been booked for the concert, for which tickets will be sold to the general public, likely will be made next week.Several other new features are planned. Writer and TV personality Andrew Zimmern will host a fun seminar, “Game On!” Ming Tsai, a chef, restaurateur and TV cooking-show host, will demonstrate “Asian BBQ.” Steve “Wine Geek” Olson, a writer and teacher on the subjects of wine, beer, spirits and other beverages, will discuss “Undiscovered Grapes of Spain.”Tomcich said the Food & Wine Classic is an important jump-start to Aspen’s summer tourist season and a boon to local lodging facilities.”It’s basically the kickoff to the summer,” he said. “At this point, it is by far the most heavily booked weekend of the entire summer. In a typical summer, it might be surpassed by Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends in total final occupancy.”Tomcich said the event provides “some marginal overflow” to Snowmass Village.”The event is capped by the number of people who can attend, and so it’s never going to be a major draw to Snowmass,” he added. “It’s very well-matched in terms of the number of people who come in from out of town relative to our bed base in Aspen. It’s a nice fit.”

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