Comprehensive list of Aspen awesomeness, Part 1: Famous people

Last week we attended the 2010 Food and Wine Classic in Aspen. It was an amazing experience, made even more special by the fact that it was our honeymoon.

I tried to write great, glowing prose that would encapsulate all the facets of the experience, but could not. Alas, the little bits and pieces below made it what it was, so rather than bore everyone to tears (more than usual), I decided to put together a few lists.  Here is Part 1.

Food-related celebrities we saw or met (in no particular order):

  • Mario Batali – As you may have seen in our video, we attended his T-Bones & Tequila fundraiser.
  • Tim Love (right) – We ran into him at the Batali party and chatted briefly. I said we were excited about his demo on Saturday, and he didn’t disappoint. Tim Love is going to be a superstar some day, mark my words.
  • Harold Dieterle – winner of the first season of “Top Chef” on Bravo. Also at the Batali fundraiser, and the cause of my first (of many) geek-out moment at the Food and Wine Classic.
  • Elizabeth Falkner – at the Batali fundraiser and jogging through town.
  • Thomas Keller – fantastic first session of the weekend.
  • Masaharu Morimoto – interesting session to watch on Japanese knife techniques.
  • Bryan Voltaggio – Jessie saw him in the lobby of our hotel, though I unfortunately did not.
  • Michael Voltaggio – signing autographs in the grand tasting tent.
  • Rick Moonen – several times throughout the weekend, we saw him wandering around looking lost.
  • Rick Bayless (right) – gave a great demo on Saturday, and we saw him walking around town with his family.
  • Mike Isabela – “Top Chef” cheftestant, bumped into him in the tasting tent. I said something mostly incoherent — after all, I was making my way from liquor sample to liquor sample.
  • Chris Cosentino – one of my favorite chefs, because he believes in nose-to-tail cooking. He was talking on his cell phone outside one of the hotels, and was my first official chef sighting of the weekend.
  • Tom Colicchio – We saw him all over the place, because really, the “Top Chef” head judge and restaurateur is the face of the Food and Wine Classic. We saw him singing at the Batali fundraiser; posing for pictures with Jacques Pepin, Art Smith (who’s lost a ton of weight) and Thomas Keller; giving a great demo; and posing for a picture with us that will soon adorn our “chefs wall” next to a photo of us with Kevin Gillespie.
  • Dana Cowan – Editor of Food & Wine Magazine. Introducing people at demos.
  • Fabio Viviani – “Top Chef” alumnus. We spotted him wandering around Aspen trying to get reception on his phone and cooking at the Bertolli booth.
  • Gail Simmons – “Top Chef” judge and Food & Wine projects editor. She gave a demo with Tom Colicchio.
  • Giada de Laurentiis (right) – very good demo, and the most open to Q&A. In real life, she’s just over three feet tall and weighs as much as a brioche bun.
  • Marcus Samuelsson – I barely recognized him at first, because I wasn’t expecting him to be handing out food at the South Africa booth. Unfortunately, we missed a great photo opportunity. He handed me a bowl of “bunny chow” — a lamb curry dish — and put his hand on my shoulder as he explained what it was. As we started chatting about how I’d like to find more lamb dishes Jessie would like, some TV journalists swooped in to interview him and our moment was over.
  • Jacques Pepin – posing for a picture (above)
  • Art Smith – posing for a picture (above)
  • Jennifer McLagan – the author of “Bones” and “Fat” — two of my favorite cookbooks — and one of our favorite presenters from the Epicurean Classic in St. Joseph, Mich., last year. We saw her in the grand tasting tent, wandering around, and I think she was stunned that we recognized her. Unfortunately she said she won’t be at the Epicurean Classic this year.
  • Sam Talbot – “Top Chef” alumnus, cooking at one of the booths.
  • Laura Werlin – one of our favorite sessions was Sunday’s “Great Grilled Cheese” tasting with the queen of cheese. We sampled four wines paired with four different grilled cheese sandwiches — not a bad breakfast, and a great way to end the weekend.

In the next few days we’ll be posting more lists from Aspen. Stay tuned for Part 2: Proteins and Part 3: Booze.

Related posts:

  1. VIDEO: Chef Tom Colicchio sings
  2. Foodie honeymoon – two weeks and counting
  3. Split-pea soup, old-people style
  4. My take on our Top Chef tour

About the Author

Owner of a graphic design firm specializing in magazine design and wannabe chef. Former resident of Belgium, the United Kingdom and...North Dakota.