Getting suckered into the octopus at Heritage Fire in Snowmass |

Getting suckered into the octopus at Heritage Fire in Snowmass

When it comes to cooking octopus, it’s all about the suckers. Some may find them a bit squeamish to look at, much less eat, but Eric Lee said by the end of Saturday’s now-annual Heritage Fire event in Snowmass Village, they had become the “turkey leg of Aspen Food & Wine.”

“It seems most people were pretty excited. I saw one or two that were, ‘I’m not doing that.’ I think the vast majority of people who came up were really into it,” Lee said. “The hardest thing honestly with octopus is the suckers and deciding whether the texture of the meat is more important, or presentation. I think it varies based on what you are doing with it. If you make an octopus salad, strip the suckers and you’ll get a more tender cut of meat. But for something like this where presentation is so much fun, we want people to see the beautiful purple and all that, so we kept the suckers on.”

Lee, who is the executive chef for the Lafayette-based eatery Acreage — part of the Stem Ciders brand — put his skills to work Saturday by making a charred octopus dish at Heritage Fire that certainly stood out among the more traditional beef, pork and chicken offerings. They brought in a handful of Spanish octopus that weighed between six and eight pounds and cooked them over the open fires in Snowmass, which is what makes Heritage Fire so unique. Partakers spent a few hours sampling cocktails and gorging themselves on a number of mostly meat samplings.

While not officially part of the Food & Wine Classic, going on down the road in Aspen this weekend, Cochon555’s Heritage Fire tour has become a staple of the weekend in Snowmass. It was the first of four Heritage Fire events they are putting on this year, with other stops including Napa Valley (July 27) and Newport, Rhode Island (Aug. 24). Acreage Farms in Lafeyette happens to be hosting the other event Aug. 11.

“It’s beautiful up here. Look around. This is paradise. It was great,” said Lee, who was taking part in Heritage Fire at Snowmass for the first time Saturday. “It was a really fun time hanging out up here. I can’t wait to do it again.”

Chefs and their teams started rolling into Base Village about 9 a.m., including Venga Venga chef Eddy Chimal who, with three buddies, carried down Fanny Hill a whole pig seasoned and ready for the fire just before 9 a.m.

There was no shortage of food Saturday afternoon.

With a pig on the Home Team logo, chef Kyle Wilkins said they had to cook up a whole hog on the fire because “otherwise people would judge me.” Home Team, located at the base of Buttermilk, started in South Carolina but has a toehold in the Aspen scene now.

“It’s a really great event, and really fun for the chefs to come out here because it’s really hands-on and what we like to do,” Wilkins said. “Working in restaurants is fun, and I love it. But this is something really cool out in nature like the way it used to be done.”

Will Nolan, who worked for a few years at the Viceroy and now is in Rico, was back in Snowmass and roasted two lambs for about seven hours Saturday.

“I’ve done so many whole pigs, so it’s kind of nice to switch it up,” Nolan said. “It’s like a homecoming. It’s one of those things that it’s on my agenda every year.”

David Krause contributed to this report.


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