Q&A with Troy Selby, owner of Silverpeak Grill
With the annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen placed on the back burner until 2021, The Aspen Times has created the 2020 Summer Kickoff/Virtual Culinary Weekend to help fill the void.
The Aspen Times is hosting a collection of virtual events to fill in just a bit, at a time when the town usually is welcoming chefs and sommeliers for Aspen’s annual rite of summer. The Times is hosting four Zoom webinars (as well as a virtual 5K), including two more Saturday. All this week, we have been asking some of the local chefs and wine experts about the industry trying to rebound from the pandemic and what this weekend of wine and food means to them.
All donations from the weekend events will be used to provide economic assistance to Roaring Fork Valley restaurant workers.
Today, we chat with Troy Selby, co-owner and chef of the Silverpeak Grill (transitioning from 520 Grill). He joined us Friday in Wagner Park for an improptu Facebook live to mark what would have been the first day the Food & Wine tents opened.
What will you miss most about the Food & Wine Weekend?
The Aspen culinary community — and the town at large — felt the blow when the news of the Food & Wine Classic’s 2020 cancellation was announced this spring. It’s understandable for so many reasons and was the right thing to do, but devastating along with all the other cancellations everywhere. We can say that next year is poised to be that much greater and appreciated after the gap year. What I will miss most about having F&W Classic here is the energy and the action that are all part of the weekend, which really is the “unofficial” start to summer in Aspen. As a chef, it feels like a homecoming with friends and former co-workers and industry icons and celebrity chefs and foodies all descending upon town. My favorite part is meeting new, interesting people in the industry and hearing their experiences of how and why they came to be chefs or restaurateurs or whatever specific field they’ve chosen.
We all have specific or special memories of Classics past. What are two or three of those for you?
1. Cooking in the Grand Tasting tent for Timbers Resorts when they were exhibitors for their property in Tuscany, Castello di Casole. I’ve never sliced so much bread for bruschetta or crostini in one weekend.
2. Meeting an idol, Jacques Pepin, and shaking his hand. If we were to meet today, it would be more of a wave or an airhug if anything.
What has changed in your business since we have started to reopen?
Earlier this year, as I was looking ahead and thinking about our 10th anniversary of 520 Grill (we opened May 20, 2010), and decided I was open to change and exploring the idea of partnering on a new dining concept with our neighbors, Silverpeak Apothecary. The pandemic pushed this idea closer to action, then we inked the deal in April and we’re now in the midst of rebranding, renovating and developing a new menu and identity. I am grateful to Chapman Ducote and James Young with Silverpeak for this opportunity to work together and bring something novel and cutting edge to Aspen and our growing customer base. It also gives me a chance to reinvent my way of cooking and learn new things — both important to keeping life interesting. I will say though that with the pandemic, the restaurant world is forever changed. It’s super hard to see businesses closing all over the city, state, country, world.
How can the food and wine worlds emerge stronger from this period of time?
I am hopeful that the general public will have a greater understanding of the cost and effort that go into a production as grand and all-encompassing as the Food & Wine Classic, not to mention what goes into importing/producing the wine and food prepared/presented/consumed on a daily basis. It is important to have a greater understanding of how it gets from farm to table and how many lives and businesses it affects along the way.
What has been the biggest thing the community has done to support you since all this began?
Many of us were fortunate to get relief from the city of Aspen for our bills and local taxes, as well as some rent relief, which has proven to be essential to keep businesses afloat … for now. What has given me the most hope has been the return of loyal customers who continue to come back in and support us as we work hard, treading lightly, and do what we love most — cooking for them.
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