Buy some produce and learn from a pro at farmers’ market
May 28, 2002
Ever been tempted by the aroma of the roasting chili peppers at Aspen’s farmers’ market but passed up the opportunity to buy a bagful because you don’t know what to do with them?
Perhaps one of the top chefs in the country can give you a few pointers. It could happen.
Local businessman Barry Gordon said he has lined up chefs at nine Aspen restaurants who are willing to give free cooking demonstrations at the Aspen Saturday Market, as the weekly event is now called.
Gordon pitched his idea to the Commercial Core and Lodging Commission earlier this month and plans to bring a formal proposal to the CCLC on June 5.
So far, he said he has received enthusiastic support for his plan to enliven the market and draw people into town.
“The reception has been fabulous,” Gordon said. “No one has said `no.’ Every chef is so excited about this . I never had to sell it to them.”
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Gordon envisions seating for about 100 people in Conner Memorial Park, located behind City Hall, and alongside the block of Hopkins Avenue where the market takes place on Saturdays throughout the summer and fall.
Each week at an appointed hour in the midmorning, a chef will give a cooking demonstration using fresh produce from the market. The chef will be outfitted with a microphone to explain the preparation of a hot or cold dish to the audience and answer questions. The crowd will have a chance to sample the dish and get a copy of the recipe to take home, according to Gordon.
“I absolutely know it’s going to be standing room only,” he said. “Here we have, in this little town, some of the country’s finest chefs, and we’re able to put on a cooking demonstration at no cost. This is a major event.”
GrassRoots TV has agreed to film the demonstrations for broadcast on Aspen’s local cable channel, he said.
Gordon said he hopes to arrange demonstrations for 10 or 11 weeks, beginning June 22. The market itself will begin a week earlier, on June 15, and continue into October.
Already committed as participants, he said, are chefs from Gusto Ristorante, Pinons, Olives at the St. Regis, Renaissance, The Mother Lode, Cache Cache, The Hotel Jerome, Jimmy’s and Campo de Fiori. Gordon said he hopes to add a couple of others to the list before it’s complete.
Gordon said he’s working with the city’s Environmental Health Department on the necessary licensing for food preparation at the park.
A longtime local resident and owner of The Aspen Collection, Gordon is the new retail representative on the Aspen Chamber Resort Association board.
Revitalizing the resort and its economy is a goal to which Gordon said he plans to give more than lip service.
“I’m trying to be as proactive as humanly possible to make the city as great as it used to be,” he said.