Guy on fire

Amanda Rae
Special to The Aspen Times

The dude in the crowd who called out “Caddyshack!” to answer chef Guy Fieri and name that quote — he got to attack the towering burger at the end of the demo as the rest of us watched wistfully.

Fieri, the Emmy Award-winning Food Network star, bestselling cookbook author and restaurateur spent his high-octane, hour-long seminar on Saturday morning cooking alongside son, Hunter, a 25-year-old chef and TV personality. They made a master pairing worthy of a road trip on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” especially for the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen set: an epic veggie burger loaded with toppings and luscious vegan cashew cheese, alongside a Bloody Maria blended from roasted, strained vegetables and dosed with his and rocker Sammy Hagar’s new Santo Mezquila.

“I hope to make a dish you probably didn’t expect from me,” the mayor of Flavortown declared at the start. (After hyping the front row with shots of that mezquila and flinging his company’s Knuckle Sandwich T-shirts into the crowd.) By 10:08 a.m., Fieri was out of breath, it was his first visit to Aspen, and visibly pumped to be invited to the 2021 Classic.

Fans of Fieri likely knew he would deliver a complex and layered creation with accouterments stuffed between a charred bun: “Morgan’s Veggie Patty” in honor of his younger sister who died of cancer at age 38. “Most veggie patties suck,” Fieri asserted, as he sautéed mushrooms, onions and garlic in a cast-iron pan and shared stories of cooking nutrient-packed, vegetable-rich meals for her. “It’s a culinary term!”

Not this one. It was a blend of charred poblanos, red peppers, and corn; boiled and riced potatoes; cooked brown rice and quinoa; shredded zucchini and carrots; spices, seasonings, fresh thyme and green onion; and a flaxseed egg imitator that keeps the burger vegan.

As our tent’s chosen one sunk his teeth, animal-style, into the massive creation, crunchy onion straws flew askew. He yawned his jaw open for another bite and cashew cheese dripped from his face.

Two thumbs up, he’d gone to Flavortown.

Amanda Rae writes a regular Food Matters column for the Aspen Times Weekly, which hits newsstands every Thursday and is online at


See more