Aspen, CO

Food & Wine Classic in Aspen returns June 17-19 for 39th glorious year

Amiee White Beazley

By Amiee White Beazley / NewsBreak Denver

(Aspen, Colo.) June is a fantastic time of year for locals who live in Aspen. Trees and flowers have bloomed, the bears are awake roaming the trails, and the town is abuzz with early summer season visitors. But only when the great white tents of the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen rise in Wagner Park does everyone know summer in Aspen has officially begun. For 39 years, these three indulgent days of food demonstrations, wine seminars, and of course, Grand Tastings, led by a group of culinary experts and visionaries, have brought the pages of Food & Wine magazine to life.

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The white tents in Wagner Park are a sure sign the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen is about to begin.Courtesy Photo

This year, the Classic returns June 17-19 to Aspen's tents, parks, and tables.

Celebrity chefs

Like every year, a list of celebrity chefs, sommeliers and other industry insiders will descend into this small mountain town for the smallest and most exclusive of all Food & Wine Classic events, nicknamed the "Granddaddy of Them All."

One of those chefs is Andrew Zimmern, a fixture at this event for many years, presenting for the first time more than 30 years ago. The bespectacled Zimmern is a James Beard Award-winning television personality, chef and food writer, perhaps best known for his television series "Bizarre Foods."

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Celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern prepares a dish at the 2021 Classic.Courtesy Photo

"It's the greatest food getaway I know of in the USA, and to be able to spend time in the mountains in summer is thrilling," says Zimmern of the Classic. "The first few times I attended I was a line cook, working in restaurants that were overloaded with hosting dinners, and trying to max out their business that week. I flew in to help friends in their kitchens or with demos and then we would steal tickets and go to parties. I wasn't a rules-playing kind of young man."

Aspen highlights

During his many visits, Zimmern has gotten to know Aspen and Western Colorado food and restaurants quite well.

"The direct pipeline is short," he says about the food available in the Aspen area. "Trout is in water, then in pan. Elk is grazing, then on grill. There is also a relevant simplicity to the food scene that I like, and the Latino food influence is also sharply felt. I love the small-town diners in places where the Sysco truck doesn't go all the time. Good honest grub."

He cites Ajax Tavern, Campo di Fiore, Matsuhisa, Kenichi and Mezzaluna as some favorite Aspen restaurants. "Some of those places I have dined in for decades," he says. "I remember the pizza and burgers at Pinocchio's in Aspen in 1975, so I have a long history in (Aspen)."

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Culinary stars toast to another successful Classic in 2021.Courtesy Photo

At this year's 39th Food & Wine Classic, Zimmern will join other celebrity chefs, including Nancy Silverton, Maneet Chauhan, Kwame Onwuachi, Stephanie Izard, Brooke Williamson, and Tyler Florence. The event, which sold out in hours earlier this year, will feature its signature mix of cooking demonstrations and wine and spirits seminars hosted by all-star talent, a Grand Tasting Pavilion, and panel discussions with experts from the culinary and hospitality fields. Experts such as Alpana Singh, Amanda McCrossin, Anthony Giglio, June Rodil, Mark Oldman and Ray Isle, among others, will lead wine and cocktail tastings.

Although tickets sold out to the festival, several special events are set throughout Aspen. Money raised at the events supports Southern Smoke Foundation, a national emergency relief fund that helps workers in the food and beverage industry in crisis, and No Kid Hungry, the only national campaign committed to ending childhood hunger in the United States.

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Amiee White Beazley is a travel, food and wine journalist whose stories, essays and photography have been featured in publications such as The Washington Post, Departures and Travel + Leisure.

Aspen, CO
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