Vail Farm-to-Table Dinners Combine Top Local Chefs and the Best of Summer Harvest Flavors
Now into its second season, the mountain town of Vail, Colorado has just wrapped up its summer 2016 Farm-to-Table dinner series. The successful summer event showcases international and local chefs as well as their wildly popular farmers’ market and art show, which run from June through early October in Vail Village.
Vail is located a pleasant two-hour drive from Denver International Airport along the I-70 corridor, winding its way through some of the beautiful terrain of the Arapahoe and White River National Forests. Known as a winter ski destination, Vail in summer affords many activities such as hiking, biking, golf, festivals, and a gondola that will take you on a slow, scenic ride to the top of Vail Mountain.
Every town has a heart and here, it is Vail Village. You can explore this cute-as-a-button community featuring restaurants, bars, and boutiques, and during the summer on Sundays, the farmers’ market and art show spread out amongst several streets with vendors offering the best in local colors and flavors. Merchants that regularly attend the Vail Farmers’ Market include Clark Family Orchards, Kaleb’s Katch, Eat a Peach, Harvest Colorado, Trout Creek Farm, Harvest Colorado, and Vail Meat Co.
The Farm-to-Table dinners grew from an idea to let locals and visitors share in an interactive culinary experience whereby chefs would create meals using locally grown produce and area-wide food purveyors. Three times a year, a large tent is erected along East Meadow Drive, and long tables adorned with flowers and stemware awaits guests. Tickets ($95) are purchased in advance (they do go quickly) and there is enough seating for around 100 guests.
The 2016 series kicked off in June with a cultural exchange highlighting special executive guest chefs, Carlos Zamora Larios and Donnie Masterson. Both hail from Vail’s sister city San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. Together, the chefs worked alongside some of Vail’s best executive chefs including Shawn Miller (Terra Bistro) and Julian Smit (bōl) to create taste tantalizing dishes.
Depending upon the selected menu, ingredients are then prepared behind the tent in the open-air pedestrian mall by some of Vail’s best culinary artists. Servers, many of whom are volunteers, then carefully plate each appetizer or entrée, which can be accompanied by regionally selected fine wines.
During the last-of-the-season dinner, for example, dishes included grilled shrimp and heirloom tomatoes, peach and nectarine salad, Colorado vegetable succotash, and grilled halibut cheeks with glaze. For dessert, pastry chef Ann Armstrong from Vail Desserts created an apricot and hazelnut tart with peach ice cream and plum caramel.
So how are things shaping up for the 2017 season? “After a successful first year of the dinner series, we’re looking to elevate the experience more by bringing in more Vail chefs and local vendors to each event to really showcase the amazing harvests and culinary talent in the Vail Valley,” said Angela Mueller, Executive Director of the Vail Farmers’ Market.
What could be better than enjoying fresh, local food prepared by top chefs under a blue sky and billowing white clouds? Not much. Bon appétit!
The Vail Farm to Table Dinner Series is held on three separate weekends in summer (June, July, and August) from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. For reservations, click here
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FTC Disclosure: This was a sponsored visit; however, all opinions herein are the author’s.