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Harlan Estate

Harlan Estate is nestled on 240 acres in the heart of Napa Valley.


Food & Wine from A to Z

By Christine Benedetti



Aspen’s most popular culinary festival is broken down for even the most elementary (and aspiring) attendees.

Avery IPA out of Boulder will get a moment in the spotlight when Andy Chabot and Roy Milner, of Blackberry Farm and Blackberry Farm Brewery, respectively, give the Food & Wine Classic’s first-ever seminar on craft brewing. The panel about making the perfect beer will feature five additional beers, including Blackberry Farm’s own classic saison.

Brunch is the star of Sunday’s show. The country’s top 10 restaurants each dole out a signature dish during the Farewell Feast at the Hotel Jerome, making it the tastiest tour de palate—possibly ever. June 17, 11am-1pm, tickets $150

Carnivores will delight in the 3,000-plus pounds of meat cooked by some 40 chefs during Heritage Fire. It’s become a staple to the Food & Wine weekend, where alfresco Snowmass grilling is an antidote to Aspen’s overconsumption of caviar. June 16, 4-7pm, tickets $130-$200

Dine with cult winery Harlan Estate, one of the country’s top-rated and most-sought-after labels. The five-course dinner at Element 47 is paired with a progression of Harlan’s vintages, from its first in 1991 to today. June 16, 7pm, tickets $1,450

Easy entertaining is what Stephanie Izard, the first female to win best new chef, is all about these days (and what she’ll address during her seminar). “Keep things informal and open-house style, so that people can eat, hang out and eat some more. Make cooking as easy as possible so you can enjoy yourself! Serve dishes that taste delicious at any temperature, like the smoked salmon toast or razzle home fries from my new book, Gather & Graze,” she says. 

Familial bonds run strong when Jacques Pépin and daughter Claudine share Lessons From a Grandfather, during which they’ll talk about his influence on her cooking for her own daughter, Shorey. Sixteen-time James Beard Award-winner Pépin’s culinary wizardry has rubbed off on Shorey, and the two published their own cookbook in 2017, A Grandfather’s Lessons ($30, Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

Gazillionaires. That’s the new measure of financial fortune according to Mark Oldman, who hosts a seminar each year about wines for the wealthy. He started the tongue-in-cheek presentation several years ago with IPO Wines for Millionaires, and the title has risen several tax brackets since.

Hunter Lewis took over as editor-in-chief of Food & Wine last June, when the magazine announced it was moving its headquarters from New York City to Birmingham, Ala. His inclusive and more diverse approach is seen throughout the festival’s updated program (and magazine pages).

Photo by Huge Galdones courtesy of Food & Wine Magazine

The Infinite Monkey Theorem Denver’s urban winery, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The hip label has built quite the reputation at the Classic; for seven years, it has hosted the tough-to-get-into Wine at the Mine party at Smuggler Mountain. Hardhats and canned wine are the perennial theme, but this year it’ll be scaled back... so getting in will test even the most experienced party-crashers. June 16, invite only

Jogging 5 kilometers with chefs like Marcus Samuelsson and Richard Blais is still the best way to kick off the Food & Wine weekend. More than 400 runners navigate the course during Friday morning’s Charity Run, which benefits Wholesome Wave Foundation, burning off calories they’ll certainly replace over the next three days. June 15, 7am, tickets from $30

KitchenAid is a lead sponsor of the festival. Expect to see coral product—everywhere—as the company debuts its color of the year: Bird of Paradise.

Last Call is the late-night soiree for people who can’t put the party down. The exclusive evening features Asian barbecue from two Austin, Texas, legends: Aaron Franklin, of Franklin’s BBQ, and Tyson Cole, of Uchi/Uchiko. The evening’s menu is a sneak peek of their highly anticipated restaurant collaboration, Loro, an Asian Smokehouse concept opening in Austin this year.

Michel Nischan’s nonprofit Wholesome Wave Foundation receives $1,000 every time a Grow for Good pass ($4,000) is sold. In addition, purchasers receive an invitation to the welcome reception, passes to ancillary events, and VIP access to seminars and Grand Tastings. But don’t feel good about the access, stand proud for contributing to making healthy produce available for the people who need it most, which Wholesome Wave helps to do in 49 states.

“#Nofilter” is the secret to Richard Blais’ seminar about plating and taking photos of food: “Take your dish outside, maybe at the magic hour right after sunrise or before sunset. Good lighting is the key to a beautiful photo! Also, a dripping egg yolk never hurts,” says the winner of Bravo’s Top Chef All-Stars.

Oregon wines have gained a reputation in a relatively short time—in terms of wine age. The region started producing exceptional pinot noir in the 1960s, but in the last five years, several new brands have exploded onto the scene, according to sommelier Kelli White. She’ll take a look at some of these newbies turning heads during her seminar, Oregon’s Cutting Edge.

Plant-based diets get premium billing on the heels of Rocco Dispirito’s 2017 cookbook, Rocco’s Healthy + Delicious ($30, HarperCollins). He’s a champion of eating whole foods (something not usually put on display at Food & Wine). Cauliflower rice risotto, anyone?

Top Chef Padma Lakshmi

Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi spent part of 2017 filming season 15 in Colorado.

Quick and easy transportation is offered courtesy of Lexus shuttles all weekend. Flag one down or call for a pickup—and be sure to tip.

Rye, as in the whiskey, makes a Classic debut. Cocktail expert David Wondrich leads two seminars on the spirit, which he says is making a resurgence with a wave of small-batch distilleries burgeoning around the country.

Season 15 of Top Chef was shot entirely in Colorado in 2017. During last year’s Food & Wine, Joe Flamm of Chicago’s Spiaggia was crowned the winner during an exclusive season finale filming at the Sundeck on Aspen Mountain. He’ll return to the Classic in Aspen this year as a newly anointed celebrity chef.

Thirty years of best new chefs culminates in a mountaintop celebration inside the Sundeck. Each year, Food & Wine names the country’s top 10 emerging chefs in its July issue, and this fete celebrates those of past and present fame, with signature dishes by Hugh Acheson (2002), Rocco DiSpirito (1999) and Stephanie Izard (2011). June 16, 7pm, tickets $400

Volunteers are what make the three-day festival possible. More than 700 local residents donate their time to make the event run as smooth as pinot noir, monitoring everything from composting to queues. But don’t feel too bad for them—in reciprocity, they get to enjoy one day of the Classic as guests too.

Wagner Park plays host to the Grand Tasting tents for the 27th year in a row. The first 10 years of the Classic were held in Snowmass, but the event outgrew that location and is now capped at 5,000.

X marked the spot of the American Express Platinum X House last year, where lucky attendees indulged in everything from manicures and hair blowouts to dance parties and delicious eats by Izard. This year, the Starwood Preferred Guest Amex activation will go down at The St. Regis Aspen Resort, where cardholders can participate in wellness rituals.

“You Had Me At Aspen” read one Instagram-worthy sign inside the Grand Tasting Tent last summer. Also on that list was a fur-clad armchair a la Game of Thrones to promote the show’s themed wine, and marquee lighting, reading “Food & Wine.” Check the social feeds and #fwclassic to see what this year offers.

Zzzs are necessary to catch up on after competing in these culinary Olympics.