This year marks the 34th Aspen Food and Wine Classic (June 16 to 19), and you can expect it to rival all prior sessions. Yes, the usual tents full of eats and drinks are the main focus of the event, in addition to cooking demonstrations, special wine tastings and plenty of celebrity chefs. But this year, event organizer Food & Wine has Nilou Motamed, the publication’s first new editor in 21 years, lending a hand in curating the festival.
If you were lucky enough to score tickets to the sold-out Aspen festival, you can expect to learn about the world’s most expensive wines, run with television personalities, sample nibbles by top new chefs and attend an epic dinner party or two. Here’s a closer look at the tastiest offerings.
Try the most expensive wines
How much do you like wine? Like really, really like it? On June 17 at 10 a.m., you can be part of the festival’s most expensive consumer wine tasting ever. Sign up for the seminar Wines for IPO Trillionaires with Mark Oldman, a wine expert and author of the soon-to-be-released book, How to Drink Like a Billionaire. This 45-minute class features some of the most expensive pourable wines around, including an uncorking of Schrader Old Sparky, a true cult cabernet that can go for $1,500 during auctions, and Jordan Winery’s cabernet packed in an 18-liter bottle. The total value of each person’s portion teeters at $10,000.
Run with the chefs
Sure, Pamplona has the running of the bulls, but the annual Celebrity Chef 5k Charity Run (June 17, 7 a.m.) in Aspen is much more fun — and a little safer. Last year, chefs Marcus Samuelsson, Stephanie Izard, Richard Blais and more took to the trail. You can plan on other top toques lacing up their sneakers this year to raise money for the healthy food-focused Wholesome Wave charity. Join them at Rio Grande Park and work off some of the weekend’s indulgences, or simply run for a good cause. Just make sure to register online before you head to the starting line.
Get insider restaurant knowledge
For the latest savvy dining topics, the American Express Restaurant Trade Program’s special series is not to be missed. Lectures will focus on how restaurants should adapt and stay relevant, the role mentorship plays in building a successful business, and how technology is currently changing the industry. Any food nerd will want to be in attendance to hear words of wisdom from culinary titans such as Hugh Acheson, Tyler Florence and Barbara Lynch.
Learn something new
With so many seminars on food and drink, it’s hard to pick which ones you should attend. On the dining side, some highlights this year include cheese expert Laura Werlin’s talk on American varieties (June 17 and 18, 10 a.m.) and Mastering Pasta (June 18, 3:45 p.m.) with festival newcomer Anne Burrell and former Food & Wine editor Dana Cowin. For those looking to gain wine knowledge, check out Champagne: The Beauty of Blanc de Blancs (June 17 and 18, 2 p.m.) with Shayn Bjornholm, the wine director of Seattle’s Canlis restaurant; and a tutorial on rosé with sommelier Jordan Salcito (June 17 and 18, 10 a.m.), the beverage director of Momofuku in New York City.
Dine on top of a mountain
On June 17 at 8 p.m., head to the top of Ajax Mountain for an epic meal straight from the acclaimed Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Blackberry Farm. During Southern Supper, you will get a taste of Dixie from 11,000 feet high as the Tennessee country inn’s chefs serve handmade charcuterie, cheeses and pastoral favorites. Beverage director and sommelier Andy Chabot will pair the wines for this feast in the foothills.