The dish… from those who know best
Tucked high in the Colorado Rockies, far from the cosmopolitan cuisine centers of New York City and Los Angeles, mountain towns like Aspen and the culinary arts make unlikely bedfellows – on the surface. But Aspen is more than just a mountain town. It is a world-class resort that attracts an chi-chi clientele and a work force to support it. This means upscale restaurants, impressive wine cellars and award-winning chefs are part of the culture, and events like the Food & Wine Classic a hallmark of the season.At times – like Food & Wine weekend – it can seem that Aspen is at the center of the culinary universe.So with this in mind, the staff of The Aspen Times began dreaming up a way to “cover” the Food & Wine Classic – and Aspen’s food and wine scene – without actually covering the goings-on under the big tent in Wagner Park.We thought of profiling a few of Aspen’s notable chefs, sommeliers and restaurateurs, but agreed that’s been done one too many times before. We thought of eating out at several of Aspen’s finer restaurants and writing reviews, but realized our paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyles wouldn’t really allow for that (nor would our boss spring for the “research” fee). We thought of ignoring the whole subject, but who would win in that scenario?What we wanted to do was bring Food & Wine down a few notches. You know, make it palatable for the common man. And since so many of the minds behind Aspen’s myriad restaurants are, in fact, common men and women (aka locals), we realized they probably view the culinary world much as we do – not as some upper-crust society, but as a damn good time.So we decided to turn it over to the experts themselves. The locals who make Aspen’s food and wine scene what it is, we reasoned, were the perfect people to tell us where to eat, where to drink, what to taste, who to trust, and so on.Thus we asked four prominent local chefs and one sommelier (to whom we gave the questions a wine bent) the following questions:• Where do you dine out – for a more upscale evening, and for a casual “burgers and fries” kind of night?• When you go out for a drink – happy hour, late night, whenever – where do you go?• Which local chef or chefs do you admire and why?• When you have a craving for a certain dish, what is it?• What’s your freakiest food story (you know, the strangest thing you’ve cooked, served, eaten, etc.)? Surprisingly, these simple questions weren’t always easy to answer. But these professional foodies rose to the challenge, offering insight, inspiration and a few chuckles at The Aspen Times, and we hope for our readers, too. Bon appétit!
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Had Hailey Swirbul decided against going to Europe, she would not have finished with a career-best result in Friday’s World Cup opener. Yes, there was a time, and not long ago, when the U.S. ski team member and Roaring Fork Valley native questioned her desire to put on a race bib.