Yolo! It’s time to Food & Wine in Aspen | AspenTimes.com

Yolo! It’s time to Food & Wine in Aspen

Aspen Chamber Resort Association veterans Jennifer Albright Carney and Debbie Braun were honored for their two decades at the chamber during the annual Food & Wine luncheon on Thursday.
Carolyn Sackariason/Aspen Times

What’s the best approach to this weekend’s Food & Wine festivities? #Yolo, of course.

That’s the advice from Debbie Braun, president and CEO of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association and a veteran on how to Food & Wine it.

She opened the annual ACRA Food & Wine Classic luncheon Thursday at the Hotel Jerome with the “you only live once” reference.

“We have had a long winter,” so the theme of the weekend ought to be “Yolo,” she told the packed ballroom of community and business leaders.

This year marks the 37th annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen which includes 80 cooking demonstrations, events and seminars, along with over 2,000 brands of wine, spirits and food.

After some brief remarks by Nancy Weber, executive vice president of marketing and integrated communications for Meredith Media, which owns Food & Wine Magazine, cheese aficionado Laura Werlin detailed some of the pairings of the wines of Spain with Thursday’s lunch.

As attendees enjoyed the buffalo milk burrata, a black garlic rubbed tenderloin and blueberry galette, they watched celebratory videos honoring Braun and Jennifer Albright Carney, vice president and event marketing at ACRA.

They were recognized for their 20 years of work at ACRA and in the community.

Albright Carney has managed the on-the-ground logistics for the Food & Wine Classic for the past 20 years. She also helps produce all of ACRA’s annual events, including the Old Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration, Aspen Arts Festival, 12 Days of Aspen and Wintersköl.

She is known for her patience, dependability and her prosperity, both at work and at home as a mother.

Braun was recognized as instrumental in guiding ACRA through her 20 years and growing the destination marketing sector.

“One of Debbie’s standout achievements has been the lodging tax as it’s gone a long way to support the direct marketing efforts of the Aspen chamber and keeping Aspen a vibrant economy,” said former Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron.

Braun, who emceed the luncheon, said ACRA and Aspen as a resort town have grown leaps and bounds from when she first began.

And with 400 published events on the chamber calendar and 300 more at the music festival, people are attracted to come here more than they ever were before, creating cross cultures and global connections, Braun said.

That ramped-up tourist activity, of course, comes with complaints from locals, as well as more lines, more selfies and more bad behavior, she added.

“I know the pastime is to complain, complain and complain,” about traffic or the weather but “this weekend is to celebrate.”