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When you visit the Rocky Mountains, there are hopes of spotting wildlife. When you visit the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, there are dreams of spotting celebrity chefs. And by a stroke of Irish luck, Betty’s wildest Chef Spotting hopes and dreams came true at this year’s Classic!
Apparently schlepping the Ouija Board to Aspen was a good idea, because Betty scores a celebrity-chef-interview Trifecta! Chef Michael Chiarello, Chef Ming Tsai, and Top Chef Stephanie Izard all rock the mic with Average Betty in exclusive interviews! Talk about a Rocky Mountain High. If you want to know answers to questions like, “who’s a better cook, you or your mother?” or “do celebrity chefs like corn dogs?” then watch Good and Gooder: Food & Wine Classic in Aspen!
Link to the Good & Gooder: Food & Wine Classic in Aspen video.
Link to the Good & Gooder: Food & Wine Classic in Aspen Part One blog post.
GUERRILLA GARDENING AND TOMATO WATER
In between celebrity chef interviews, Betty attended a refreshing session on sustainable farming, The Farm-to-Fork Connection: Creating a Sustainable World at Your Table, featuring Chef & Wine Grower, Michael Chiarello, and Certified Organic Master Gardner, Peter Jacobsen, and takes away practical knowledge that she can apply back at home.
Peter Jacobsen, who has been practicing sustainable farming for twenty-seven years, makes it very clear: Eating is an agricultural act in which we all participate. Jacobsen believes we all have a sphere of concern and a sphere of influence, and by encouraging everyone we know to “vote with your fork” and “become a farmer” we are sharing our concern and growing our sphere of influence. Vote with your fork, sure. But encourage everyone to become a farmer? Jacobsen explains we should plant seeds wherever possible… backyard or windowsill. Even practice (responsible) guerrilla gardening by scattering seeds around your neighborhood, especially if you live in an urban area. However you are able, plant more and encourage others to do the same.
Chef Chiarello hydrates the Saturday morning audience with a fresh Tomato Water as he compares sustainable farming to a strong marriage. Chiarello explains that if you don’t know where (or who) the foods you buy are from, it’s like buying a mail-order bride. And like a marriage, plants require a certain amount of tension to grow. If a plant has to search for water and nutrients (as opposed to being over-watered and over-fertilized) it will have a stronger, more sustainable root structure in the years to come.
The Food & Wine Best New Chefs Dinner is the most anticipated event of the Classic and undeniably the most delicious. The Best New Chefs present one offering for judging by the entire crowd! No butterfly ballots here; voting takes place via text message. Three floors of scenery at Aspen Meadows offer an array of award-winning flavor. Chef Nate Appleman serves up his winning Pork Meatballs in Tomato Ragu topped with Grana Padano on the roof-top balcony. Sure, just a meatball. But, the best meatball ev-ar!
Not to go unnoticed is Chef Bryan Caswell and his Crab Cocktail Shooter (above). Simple, refreshing, innovative and succulent. Certainly a favorite with Betty. The Pork Belly Slider with Kim Chee and Peanuts (left) presented by Chefs Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook also creates quite a stir. Their restaurant, Animal, is in Los Angeles so Betty will have to investigate further!
The Top Chef Classic Quickfire hosted by Sissy Biggers is a funny, fast-paced competition that has you on the edge of your seat! Teamed up are Chefs Hosea Rosenberg and Jacques Pépin against Chefs Stephanie Izard and Ming Tsai in a battle for the Breakfast of Champions! The teams have 25 minutes to impress judges Gail Simmons, Dana Cowin, Tom Colicchio and a benevolent audience-member who bid $15,000 to sit on the judges panel. His generous bid not only won him the judges seat, but also benefits Cook for the Cure.
Sissy Biggers has the crowd howling with laughter in no time. Chef Tsai, in reply to Bigger’s jab about who is in charge says, “Well, she’s (Izard) in charge, but I need a raise.” Biggers continues with the leading questions and asks Chef Rosenberg where he got pastry dough; Rosenberg replies with a smirk, “Jacques Pépin.”
The challenge is heightened by having a pantry stocked with only leftover ingredients from all the cooking demonstrations. Quick-thinking creativity blooms with Team Izard-Tsai. They concoct a breakfast sandwich made from cold pizza, lobster, bacon and a fried egg. Dana Cowin proclaims the sandwich to be lobster abuse. Team Rosenberg-Pépin also takes the lobster route but prepares what Gail Simmons describes as just a “big plate of lobster” and surmises, “how can you go wrong with that?” Rosenberg-Pépin also offers a mushroom tart, which the guest judge describes as too rich for his taste. His observation was met with a low, albeit polite, “Boo” from the audience. Ultimately, team Rosenberg-Pépin win with the declaration by Dana Cowin that Jacques Pépin is a chef who knows how to “show a crustacean proper respect.”
If you love food, wine, celebrity chefs and gorgeous Rocky Mountain scenery, then you have to attend the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.