The 2017 Aspen Food and Wine Classic Celebrates 35 Years of Food Festival Success

Celebrity chefs and fans descend on this small Colorado town every June

The scene at the festival

No doubt about it, when it comes to food festivals, the Aspen Food and Wine Classic is the granddaddy of them all. The planning alone takes a year and involves an army of logistical support and hundreds of volunteers. On game day, the event holds all the pomp and grandeur of a major sporting event as thousands of culinary aficionados descend upon Aspen. They come by car, plane, bike, and even by foot, all hoping to sample great wines and food and learn about the latest trends in the culinary arts from the world’s leading experts.

The festival celebrated its 35th anniversary this year, and the festival’s various events were held in pavilions throughout town. Main stage events were at Wagner Park in the heart of the city. There, visitors sampled some of the finest wines, spirits, and food from 300 wine and lifestyle brand vendors, who came from all over the country — and in some cases, the world — to share.

Some of the industry brands represented were All-Clad Metalcrafters (makers of the LTD Cookware Collection), KitchenAid, SproutsIO Personal Produce, and VerTerra Dinnerware.

Attendees browsed the Grand Tasting Pavilion, sampling wines from 165 different exhibitors, including the Wines from Spain trade group as well as spirits like Woodford Reserve, Patrón, and Monkey 47 Gin.

Of course, food was well represented, with cheese and bread stations spread throughout the pavilion. Other areas included a Best New Chef section with selections from up-and-coming chefs and familiar brands including Kerrygold, Sterling Caviar, and Virginia Cocktail Peanuts. Another notable crowd-pleaser was Delysia Chocolatier from Austin. Industrial engineer turned chef and chocolatier Nicole Patel provided samples of her handmade Parisian-style confections. Delysia was named one of the Top 10 Chocolatiers in the Americas.

Seminars and demonstrations (more than 80) also took place, including a panel discussion about changing culinary landscapes led by acclaimed chef Andrew Zimmern and part of the American Express Restaurant Trade Program.

Other presentations included Northern Italy’s Greatest Whites, American Raw Milk Cheeses, In the Kitchen with Top Chef Brooke Williamson, and Remarkable Rioja.

Accommodations for the Food and Wine Classic fill up quickly, so making reservations well in advance is recommended. The Little Nell is the perfect base for exploring the festival as it is within walking distance of all of the events. It is a five-star, five-diamond hotel, and the experience here is pure luxury to unwind after the busy days.

The Little Nell is also very proud of its culinary program, which includes producing about 75 percent of its own produce from the Emma Gardens for a true farm-to-table experience. For steaks and burgers, the meat is sourced from a ranch in Craig, Colorado, which raises 150 head of wagyu cattle. Finally, the Little Nell has an extensive wine program with 20,000 bottles of wine and about 50 sommeliers to help guide you to the best pairings.

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Aspen’s Food and Wine Classic is the ultimate food and wine experience. If you are looking for your next palate-pleasing extravaganza, then start planning now for next year’s festival.