We’re back: 2021 Food & Wine Classic a long time coming

Linda and Kelly J. Hayes
Special to The Aspen Times

This feature and others appear in The Aspen Times’ Food & Wine Classic preview section, which can be found online at

More than 800 days ago, foodies said goodbye to their friends at the 2019 Food & Wine Classic, not knowing what was to come. In that time the world has seen incredible change. But finally, at long last, Aspen again welcomes the culinary community back to our town.

As the event approached, we asked some of those who are regulars at the Classic, both locals and visitors, what they missed most and what they are looking forward to this year.

“After more than two years away, heading to Aspen for the Food & Wine Classic feels long overdue. I couldn’t be more excited about the 2021 event lineup, which features a blend of established stars like Martha Stewart and Guy Fieri and dynamic up-and-coming talent, including the 2021 class of F&W Best New Chefs, who will shape the future of cuisine in America. On behalf of the Food & Wine team, we are grateful to the town of Aspen, staff, and volunteers who partner with us to create this world-class event.

— Hunter Lewis, Editor in Chief, FOOD & WINE

Debbie Braun, president and CEO of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, opens up the Food & Wine Classic member luncheon on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, inside the Hotel Jerome in Aspen. Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times.

“The Food & Wine Classic in Aspen is like summer camp for locals. We get to see old friends, meet new ones and learn some cool stuff – it doesn’t matter if you volunteer or have a pass, the energy in town is upbeat, happy and fun. I’m sure the wine helps!”

— Debbie Braun, President and CEO, Aspen Chamber Resort Association

“I have a lot of respect for an event that is celebrating 38 ‘consecutive’ years. I am honored to be part of a tradition that evokes loyalty, grit and, most of all, community, no matter how you experience the Classic. I look forward to this year reminding us all how lucky we are to work and play together in this place we call Aspen.”

— Jenny Luu, Volunteer Coordinator and Director from 2015-21, Born and raised in Aspen

“The Classic signals a hospitality-wide celebration. It not only serves as a reunion among longtime participants (always love seeing Ken Forrester representing his South African and Northern Californian wines), but also an incredible opportunity to meet those behind emerging brands (referring to you, D. Wade). Since it’s coming this time in September — as opposed to skipping two years in a row — I applaud the team behind the Classic for being nimble and committed to keeping the tradition alive. It’s also especially exciting this year as it rolls right into my birthday on Sunday, Sept. 12, which feels fortuitous.”

— May Selby, Aspen DJ, Photographer, Communications Specialist

“Aspen is a beautiful place; however, events like Food & Wine make it even more attractive. Food & Wine brings professionals and consumers closer to each other and their dreams. I remember all the beautiful moments that we had the chance to share through this incredible event. I wish I could inhale the weekend and hold it in my lungs.”

— Csaba (Chubby) Oveges, Director of Operations, The Little Nell

Mawa McQueen, founder of Mawa's Kitchen, The Crepe Shack and Mawa's GrainFreeNola, poses for a photo.
Courtesy image

“Food & Wine is a fun, party time, where we discover new food and wine products when the town is vibrant and magical. Everyone is so happy, the beautiful dresses, all of the amazing events, new chefs, new restaurants, new dishes, the smell of food surrounds the whole town! Food & Wine is something that we all await and it never gets old. What am I most looking forward to this year? I like to see more diversity in celebrity chefs, more female chefs, more inclusiveness … because it has always been the same people that come year after year.”

— Chef Mawa McQueen, Mawa’s Kitchen, Aspen and the Crepe Shack, Snowmass

“Attending since 2012, the Classic has been the event I look forward the most to every year, so there was a tiny hole in my heart to miss it in 2020. Beyond the extraordinary array of culinary pleasures – both at the event and provided by the local Aspen restaurants – as well as the amazing array of exquisite wines, I find that the Classic provides an invaluable connection with a community that is open to learning from each other and always striving for excellence. Coming back this year, I am most looking forward to seeing familiar faces again and making connections with new ones!”

— Lisa Barker, Estate Director at Sullivan Rutherford Estates

“I am beyond thrilled to be back for my 25th Food & Wine Classic! I’m looking forward to morning coffee at Victoria + Co. (Victoria often keeps a stash of an Australian hangover cure.) I’m also looking forward to just being in Aspen: mountain air, blue skies and some of the nicest people on the planet.”

— Anthony Giglio, Writer, Educator, Storyteller, Wine Presenter

Mark Oldman has a laugh with fans as he signs autographs at the first Grand Tasting of at Food and Wine Classic in Aspen on June 16, 2017.
Anna Stonehouse/Aspen Times file photo

“There is a special kind of exhilaration that surrounds the Aspen Classic that I have missed greatly. It results from a unique convergence of factors: the crystalline blue skies, the heady mountain air, ample amounts of day drinking, and the general feeling among everyone that there is nowhere else that they would rather be.”

— Mark Oldman, Author, Wine Expert, Presenter

“Personally, there is a special place in my heart for the Classic, as my first role at Food & Wine was working on the team that produces this incredible event. This will be my 12th year (11th festival since the 2020 event was canceled) and it remains one of the best weekends of my year because, unlike so many festivals I have attended, the level of passion brought by the attending chefs and wine and spirits experts is unparalleled. But it’s not just the talent; the attendees of this event have just as much passion. They come not just for fun, but to learn and experience the best of what the food and beverage industry has to offer. Take all of that passion, add the gorgeous Rocky Mountain views and unique Aspen vibes, and the result is one magical weekend.”

— Justin Chapple, Culinary Director At Large, Food & Wine magazine