Kelly J. Hayes: WineInk | AspenTimes.com

Kelly J. Hayes: WineInk

Kelly J. HayesAspen Times WeeklyAspen, CO Colorado

This upcoming weekend will see the launch of the first annual Snowmass Culinary & Arts Festival. For three days a veritable cornucopia of events featuring renowned chefs, prized spirits and creative artists will turn sleepy Snowmass into the go-to destination in the Roaring Fork Valley. Among the talented culinary artists who will be presenting their wares this weekend will be Frank Bonanno, owner and chef of a quartet of terrific Denver restaurants, namely, Luca D’Italia, Mizuna, Osteria Marco, and the red-hot Asian fusion noodle house, Bones. Bonanno will be joined at the SC&A Festival (this event is so new that this may be the first time it has been reduced to twitter initials) by mega chefs Laurent Tourondel of BLT Restaurants (that stands for Bistro Laurent Tourondel) and Alfred Portale of New York’s Gotham Bar and Grill. Christy Rost, chef and cookbook author, will also be in attendance. While Portale and Tourondel may be more well-known nationally, those who head over Independence Pass to Denver for great food and wine know that Bonanno has done some very special things to help turn Denver’s food scene around. Along with a small group of chefs (Jennifer Jasinski of Rioja and Alex Seidel of Fruition come to mind), Bonanno has been a catalyst in the vast overhaul in both the quality and reputation of Denver’s restaurants over the past decade.The use of fresh, locally grown ingredients, the return to crafted simplicity and the ability to stay ahead of the latest culinary trends are all elements that have contributed to the success of Bonanno Concepts, the parent company of the four eateries. Bonanno is the kind of chef who loves food and drink and lives to share his passion with others. This Saturday he will not only appear on a panel discussion (moderated by The Aspen Times’ Stewart Oksenhorn) with the other chefs, but he will also take part in a cooking demo. He will demonstrate how to make burrata, a silky, creamy combination of mozzarella and cream that is the cheese of the moment; Hamachi Crudo (think Sicilian sushi); and a Goat Cheese Agnolotti, a stuffed pasta from Piedmont in Northern Italy. Getting hungry? While Bonanno says he is a “classic Vodka martini guy” his restaurants are also highly regarded for having some of the best bar programs in Denver. Helming the action for all four restaurants is mixologist Adam Hodak who will be coming to the SC&A with Bonanno to showcase a number of fresh cocktails. The roster at the event includes an impressive array of distilleries and spirits along with a fine wine program. Hodak will be making cocktails using products from Denver’s Leopold Bros. and 901 Tequila. The inclusion of craft vodka, gin and whisky (Stranahan’s Colorado Whisky will also be poured) is indicative of an emerging trend in the culinary world. While as recently as five years ago a food festival was all about pairing food with wine, the advent of small distillers making high-quality products has changed the scene considerably. “It’s fun. That’s part of what makes the food business so great,” Bonanno says with enthusiasm about the changes in the lineup. He is also enthusiastic about coming to Snowmass where he can hike with his kids and see fellow chefs Mark Fischer at six89 and Ryan Hardy from Montagna. “There’s no one else I would rather cook with for a night than those two guys,” he says with a laugh. “Maybe it is because we share the same belief systems. We all have an artisinal approach and a strong work ethic, and we all like our ingredients fresh.” The Snowmass Culinary & Arts Festival has a number of components, ranging from free Artist Exhibitions to a wine dinner at the Viceroy Hotel’s 8K Restaurant to a Bourbon-paired meal at The Artisan and a Beer dinner at Brothers Grille. Saturday’s tasting session will feature a number of chefs who will be paired with many of the aforementioned distillers and wineries, such as Colorado’s Guy Drew Vineyards and Woody Creek Cellars. There will also be a panel discussion and chef workshops. Kids programs include a “Kupcakes for Kids” workshop at The Sweet Life and a sushi-making seminar at Nest at the Viceroy on Friday afternoon. Sunday will feature a brunch and a Gastronomic Tour of Snowmass Village. Tickets and more information can be found at http://www.snowmassculinaryandarts.com/.This upcoming weekend will see the launch of the first annual Snowmass Culinary & Arts Festival. For three days a veritable cornucopia of events featuring renowned chefs, prized spirits and creative artists will turn sleepy Snowmass into the go-to destination in the Roaring Fork Valley. Among the talented culinary artists who will be presenting their wares this weekend will be Frank Bonanno, owner and chef of a quartet of terrific Denver restaurants, namely, Luca D’Italia, Mizuna, Osteria Marco, and the red-hot Asian fusion noodle house, Bones. Bonanno will be joined at the SC&A Festival (this event is so new that this may be the first time it has been reduced to twitter initials) by mega chefs Laurent Tourondel of BLT Restaurants (that stands for Bistro Laurent Tourondel) and Alfred Portale of New York’s Gotham Bar and Grill. Christy Rost, chef and cookbook author, will also be in attendance. While Portale and Tourondel may be more well-known nationally, those who head over Independence Pass to Denver for great food and wine know that Bonanno has done some very special things to help turn Denver’s food scene around. Along with a small group of chefs (Jennifer Jasinski of Rioja and Alex Seidel of Fruition come to mind), Bonanno has been a catalyst in the vast overhaul in both the quality and reputation of Denver’s restaurants over the past decade.The use of fresh, locally grown ingredients, the return to crafted simplicity and the ability to stay ahead of the latest culinary trends are all elements that have contributed to the success of Bonanno Concepts, the parent company of the four eateries. Bonanno is the kind of chef who loves food and drink and lives to share his passion with others. This Saturday he will not only appear on a panel discussion (moderated by The Aspen Times’ Stewart Oksenhorn) with the other chefs, but he will also take part in a cooking demo. He will demonstrate how to make burrata, a silky, creamy combination of mozzarella and cream that is the cheese of the moment; Hamachi Crudo (think Sicilian sushi); and a Goat Cheese Agnolotti, a stuffed pasta from Piedmont in Northern Italy. Getting hungry? While Bonanno says he is a “classic Vodka martini guy” his restaurants are also highly regarded for having some of the best bar programs in Denver. Helming the action for all four restaurants is mixologist Adam Hodak who will be coming to the SC&A with Bonanno to showcase a number of fresh cocktails. The roster at the event includes an impressive array of distilleries and spirits along with a fine wine program. Hodak will be making cocktails using products from Denver’s Leopold Bros. and 901 Tequila. The inclusion of craft vodka, gin and whisky (Stranahan’s Colorado Whisky will also be poured) is indicative of an emerging trend in the culinary world. While as recently as five years ago a food festival was all about pairing food with wine, the advent of small distillers making high-quality products has changed the scene considerably. “It’s fun. That’s part of what makes the food business so great,” Bonanno says with enthusiasm about the changes in the lineup. He is also enthusiastic about coming to Snowmass where he can hike with his kids and see fellow chefs Mark Fischer at six89 and Ryan Hardy from Montagna. “There’s no one else I would rather cook with for a night than those two guys,” he says with a laugh. “Maybe it is because we share the same belief systems. We all have an artisinal approach and a strong work ethic, and we all like our ingredients fresh.” The Snowmass Culinary & Arts Festival has a number of components, ranging from free Artist Exhibitions to a wine dinner at the Viceroy Hotel’s 8K Restaurant to a Bourbon-paired meal at The Artisan and a Beer dinner at Brothers Grille. Saturday’s tasting session will feature a number of chefs who will be paired with many of the aforementioned distillers and wineries, such as Colorado’s Guy Drew Vineyards and Woody Creek Cellars. There will also be a panel discussion and chef workshops. Kids programs include a “Kupcakes for Kids” workshop at The Sweet Life and a sushi-making seminar at Nest at the Viceroy on Friday afternoon. Sunday will feature a brunch and a Gastronomic Tour of Snowmass Village. Tickets and more information can be found at http://www.snowmassculinaryandarts.com/.

Kelly J. Hayes lives in the soon-to-be designated appellation of Old Snowmass with his wife, Linda, and a black Lab named Vino. He can be reached at malibukj@wineink.com.

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