image: c2 photography/food & wine
I arrived home from Aspen Food & Wine Classic earlier this week, and it admittedly took me a couple days to fully recover from the eats, drinks, nonstop pace, and – did I mention drinks? It was a gloriously busy and delicious few days, and I was excited to team up with KitchenAid as their festival correspondent since it meant working with a brand I love and getting behind-the-scenes access to all the best chef demos of the week at the KitchenAid Cooking School stages. I brought home so much inspiration from the classes, the new Aspen restaurants I discovered, and simply soaking up all that energy from fellow passionate foodies. Scroll on for 7 experiences from the Classic that have got me excited to get back in the kitchen and cook!
1 – Andrew Zimmern’s tribute to Anthony Bourdain.
I’ve been a big fan of Andrew Zimmern’s for years, so it was especially great to discover what a kind-hearted and genuine guy he is in person. His cooking demo started with a moving tribute to Anthony Bourdain, sharing that the way Bourdain illuminated food from his travels brought a deeper understanding and unity to cultures around the globe. I think everyone was teary-eyed but inspired by the legacy Bourdain left through his trailblazing spirit.
Then in his Spain-inspired demo, Chef Zimmern showed us how to make the most insanely delicious paella that included (wait for it) snails!! The KitchenAid stage was all about celebrating the beauty of the cooking process, encouraging home chefs to get outside their comfort zone and experiment – even with ingredients that sound totally outside the box.
2 – Goop Aspen Pop Up
I arrived in Aspen just in time for the opening party for Goop’s Aspen pop-up! If you were keeping an eye on my Instagram Stories, you know I met Gwyneth, and almost as exciting was getting to shop the most perfectly curated and Goop-y home goods, beauty, and clothing in person. Chef Seamus Mullen’s Watermelon & Heirloom Tomato Salad recipe was passed around on trays with herb-infused cocktails for the most perfectly shoppable summer evening.
The next morning, I moseyed over to the KitchenAid booth at the Food & Wine Classic Grand Tasting Pavilion for live demos from world class chefs, including Seamus Mullen and Elizabeth Falkner, teaching us how to make familiar recipes with a modern twist.
3 – Jose Enrique’s Torrejas: a Latin-inspired version of French Toast!
One bite of this custardy challah creation left me wondering: could I be friends with someone who doesn’t like French toast? I’m just not sure if I could totally trust them (teehee.) At the KitchenAid demo booth, Chef Enrique showed us how to make a fragrant syrup with brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and oranges, then topped toasted challah with the infused syrup, berries, mint, and cream for the ultimate summer breakfast (or lunch, or dinner, or dessert…), all on a dreamy induction cooktop.
4 – The grand opening of the new Clark’s Aspen
I loved getting to help my Austin friends celebrate the opening of their first Aspen outpost at Clark’s! This is one of my favorite restaurants in town, and the new location perfectly marries the light and airy vibe of the original with cozy lodge-inspired details fitting of the mountains. Get the octopus and avocado salad, as many oysters as you can handle, and if you’re feeling naughty, a BLT and fries (drool.)
5 – The Cooking School with Richard Blais
KitchenAid presented a make-a-long experience with genius chef Richard Blais that allowed 24 festival-goers the opportunity to make whole wheat spaghetti with sorrel pesto right along with him.
Chef Blais showed us how to make homemade pasta dough and run it through the pasta attachment of the KitchenAid Artisan® Series 5 Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer for perfect fettuccine, then followed it up with a summery sorrel pesto that audience members whipped up in the cutest mini 3.5 Cup Choppers. It was an unforgettable experience, reminding me that the best cooking allows for fun and experimentation in the kitchen every step along the way.
6 – Aspen Farmers Market
The farmers market is always a highlight of any Aspen trip: vendors line two streets with stalls overflowing with local produce, gorgeous flowers, and artisan-made goods. We loved snapping photos and snacking our way through the market with live music, sunshine, and the backdrop of the mountains making it the perfect way to soak up a Saturday.
7 – Drinks, Lunch, Dinner, EVERYTHING at Meat & Cheese
When you go to the same place three times in two days, is it bordering on an unhealthy obsession? Adam and I sat with glasses of rosé and charcuterie at Meat & Cheese one evening at dusk, then returned for post-hike Asian noodle salads the next day, then stopped by for a dozen of their chocolate chip cookies to take to a friend’s dinner party that night. It’s the perfect gourmet casual vibe with ridiculously good food – basically everything I want in a neighborhood café.
It was an amazing week that left me inspired to cook (and eat) and I’m already counting down to next year’s Classic. Big thanks to KitchenAid for letting me chronicle all their culinary adventures, and be sure to follow @KitchenAidUSA for lots more culinary and design inspo!