Today’s guest post is a recap of Chef Nicole Patel‘s adventures with Delysia Chocolatier at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, well-known as one of the best food festivals in the nation.
The FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen is one of the most influential festivals in the industry. Every summer, food lovers, wine drinkers, and anyone with an appetite, gather in the heart of Aspen, Colorado to sample some of the country’s greatest food and wines. Delysia Chocolatier was honored to be a part of The Classic for a third year in the Grand Tasting. Made up of two large tents, the Grand Tasting becomes home to over 500 exhibitors during the weekend. This busy weekend of cooking demos, tastings, and private parties is a weekend we look forward to all year.
Every year, our involvement in The Classic grows and our preparations increase. For weeks leading up to the festival, press releases and emails were at an all-time high as we made final arrangements for the parties we would be attending. But the most important arrangement to be made were the chocolates. Over 10,000 chocolate truffles were created for The Classic- more truffles than we’ve ever made at one time. Every truffle flavor was created specifically for an event in mind, not reusing a single recipe.
Getting the opportunity to talk with amazing guests.
Two days of driving later with anxious little boys in the back seat, we arrived in Aspen. My husband and children immediately took to the hiking trails near our place while I made final arrangements and scheduled meetings to be had throughout the week. We kicked off the festival on June 16th by premiering our chocolates at Aspen Magazine’s private party. We wowed our audience with unique flavors that fit into the Asian theme. We featured truffles with flavors like Wasabi raspberry, Honey Sriracha, and Seaweed salad chocolate truffles. The excitement on the guests’ faces when they tried our truffles are one of my favorite parts of this job. It is our passion to astonish people with inventive flavors that show the range in which chocolate can be enjoyed. Along with this kick-off party, I also attended a Welcome Reception at the St. Regis and a party hosted by Boisset at Limelight Hotel. That evening alone, there were over twenty parties taking place in Aspen. The weekend had no shortage of entertainment.
Gochujung chocolate truffle at the Aspen Magazine party.
Friday we began the Grand Tasting. Before noon, the tents were filled with thousands of attendees. We showcased truffles and a bark inspired by Southern cuisine. Many of our loyal Austin customers are already fans of the Southern flavors so we extended the selections to include new truffles. Each session of the Grand Tasting was a different meal including an entrée, side dish, dessert, and beverage. We began with Frito Pie, Baked Beans, Red Velvet, and Mint Julep chocolate truffles. An extreme number of truffles later and a meeting with Zac Brown, we had completed our first Grand Tasting of the year. Now it was time for another party. We made our way to Nello Alpine to setup for Patron Tequila’s Summer Switch Up Party where they featured classic cocktails with a tequila twist. We sampled truffles to guests all infused with Patron’s tequilas and spirits -Mango Habanero, Orange Blossom, Key Lime Pie, Spicy Maple Pecan, and our award-winning Jalapeno Tequila chocolate truffles. The party guests danced until midnight to an incredible DJ and violinist.
Meeting Zac Brown was definitely a highlight!
The view from the Patron Tequila Summer Switch Up party overlooking the ski lifts.
Saturday would be our longest day during the weekend starting with the Grand Tasting where our Southern meal included Fried Chicken, Collard Greens, Banana Pudding, and Hurricane chocolate truffles. We saw old and new friends including Andrew Zimmern, Gail Simmons, and Mike Gulotto. Andrew has been a fan of our Cricket chocolate bark after meeting him at the 2015 Food & Wine Classic. Gail always has the kindest words of encouragement and is a huge fan of our Ghost Pepper bark (though we learned that her father-in-law might actually be a bigger fan!). Mike and I had the pleasure of cooking together last year at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, as well as at Cured in San Antonio for a charity dinner. During lunch, we quickly headed to the Grand Hyatt for Patron Spirit and Dauo Vineyards’ High End party that catered to fifty of their biggest national clients. We love the more intimate environment of the private parties as it allows us more personal time with each guest. For this party, we showcased four truffles created exclusively to pair with the high end wine and specialty tequila being served – Cigar Smoked Salted Caramel, Black Current, Honey Apricot, and Cherry Espresso chocolate truffles. The very sophisticated lounge made a great pair with our chocolates. After the party, we made our way back to the tasting tents where we displayed Brisket BBQ, Baked Potato, Peach Cobbler, and Coke & Peanut chocolate truffles. Tim Love made a stop at our table along with Zac Brown. A few hours later, we spent the evening discussing strategies and lessons learned as we ate steaks with our Ghost Pepper chocolate bark melted over the top until falling asleep on the couch. We were more than exhausted. It’s often funny how even when time seems to be going by so quickly, your body can’t catch up. But we only had one day left.
Grand Tasting with Andrew Zimmern.
Sunday morning, we had a late breakfast at one of our favorite restaurants down the hill from where we stayed called Big Hoss Grill in Snowmass. We began our way to the Grand Tasting to display all of our flavors created for the weekend. On our way to the merchandise tent (it doesn’t count if you don’t have a t-shirt, right?), we ran into Jacques Pepin having brunch just outside of our tent. We made a quick hello to allow him time with his family and friends. Sunday was the shortest day as it only lasted a few hours then we loaded out. In the evening, we celebrate over Italian and had a champagne toast to another great year at the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen.
Jacques Pepin on our last Grand Tasting day.
FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen continues to be one of our favorite events that we attend. Despite the lengthy preparations, being surrounded by people who are passionate about what you do, is a rejuvenating experience that reignites my own passion for Delysia. I’m incredibly lucky to spend every day doing something I love, and enjoy any chance to share that with others.
Chef Nicole Patel at the 2016 Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.
Thank you, Chef Nicole, for your recap of food, fun, and the festivities at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. Find her artisan chocolates online, or enjoy a sampling before purchasing at the Delysia Culinary Center & Chocolate Boutique, 2000 Windy Terrace, Suite 2C, Austin, TX 78613 (check website for hours). Delysia Chocolatier has been a friend and chocolate ally to ATX Food News since the early days of the business, and we’ve enjoyed watching Chef Nicole’s culinary star rise.