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Travel Diary: The FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen

Top 5 Takeaways from the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen

While this year may not have been the typical FOOD & WINE 2021 Classic in Aspen (it was held in September versus June due to the pandemic), the annual event remained both festive and forward-thinking—and one of the best food and wine vacations. As an editor who has covered the Classic for years, I’m continually learning from this three-day whirlwind, which has staged the likes of Martha Stewart, José Andres, Jacques Pépin, Marcus Samuelsson, and many more star chefs. Here are my top five takeaways and yummy trend reports as we toast the future of food and wine.

FOOD & WINE 2021 Best New Chefs 

One of my favorite announcements each year is the FOOD & WINE 2021 Best New Chefs. No matter the time of year, I keep this on my radar as a travel cheat sheet and try to hit as many restaurants that feature these up-and-coming talents. Topping my wish list for 2022? Chef Matt Horn’s restaurant, Horn Barbecue, in Oakland; Austin’s Suerte with star Chef Fermín Núñez; and sampling new dishes by Chef Gaby Maeda at State Bird Provisions in San Francisco. For your own full cheat sheet, and to read up on all the 2021 Best New Chefs, click here.

Reisling is Having a Serious Moment

Featuring star sommelier Bobby Stuckey—owner of Boulder’s Frasca Hospitality Group and a founder of Scarpetta Wine—the seminar titled “The Brilliance of Dry Reisling” was a tasty standout. As Stuckey explained, vineyards along the Danube are a great reflection for Reisling, producing stellar vino. Stuckey presented Austrian and Alsace standouts from such top producers as Leitz, Donnhoff, and Domaine Weinbach. The takeaway? A dry Reisling can seriously up-level your next dinner party.

Be a Five-Star Diner

As the state of the restaurant industry continues to fluctuate amidst the pandemic, take note of how, not just where you dine. Restaurants are understaffed and service currently requires more patience. In fact, FOOD & WINE magazine’s Editor in Chief, Hunter Lewis, outlines his perspective here, with an important reminder that “Hospitality shouldn't be purely transactional; kindness shouldn't be a one-way street flowing only from workers toward guests.”

Diageo recently released the highly anticipated Don Julio Primavera
Bosq Chef/Owner Barclay Dodge

Let’s Talk Tequila

Eva Longoria celebrated the launch of her new tequila, Casa Del Sol, during the FOOD & WINE 2021 Classic in Aspen, while Tanteo Tequila celebrated its new spirit during a private party at Aspen’s famous Belly Up nightclub. As the only tequila owned by a co-op of agave farmers, the limited-edition Tanteo Navidad is the brand's first-ever aged expression—an ultra-premium Añejo tequila rested for 18 months in American oak barrels, then hand-infused with pequin chilis, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, and ginger (plus, 10 percent of all profits go towards Un Salto Con Destino, a charity providing essential medical services to underprivileged members of Tanteo’s Mexican community). Also exciting within the growing tequila trend: Diageo’s two new high-end Don Julio releases, including Don Julio Primavera, finished in orange wine casks for a sophisticated, silky taste, and the Ultima Riserva, produced from the final agave harvest planted by the brand's namesake founder and his family.

Plant-Based Cuisine

We’re all hearing more about the power of plants, and this was a topic of convo (and seminars) during this year’s Classic. Meatless meat? Expect the massive industry to only grow in size. So whether you’re looking to eat less meat, or no meat at all, grocery stores will be packed with diverse supplies. Vegan restaurants are rising in popularity, too, with talents like LA’s Chef Lemel Durrah forging innovative ground in plant-based fare. In Aspen, local star chef and Bosq restaurant owner Barclay Dodge (who loves to mushroom forage) is crafting some of the most brilliant plant-based dishes in the country.

Save the Date! FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen 2022.

Learn from game changers and innovators when the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen 2022 descends upon town next summer. Meet celebrity chefs and experience the latest trends in the food, wine, and spirits industries from June 17-19, 2022 (note: Buy tickets early, as this event sells out, quick like, the moment sales are formally announced).

Where You’ll Stay

Club Members, with their VIP Benefits, can opt for the historic Hotel Jerome, located in the heart of downtown Aspen and featuring the legendary J-Bar (a favorite of Hunter S. Thompson), or enjoy three-bedroom residences at The Timbers Snowmass, nestled at the base of Snowmass Mountain.