In Aspen, Colorado, New Year’s Eve is like a movie premiere, fashion show and street party all mixed together. There is hysteria, snow, fur, Champagne and mountain beauty everywhere; celebrities and angelic, twentysomething snowboarders jam the sidewalks; and every hot tub is full.
The most VIP place in town is Montagna restaurant in the Little Nell hotel. It’s so crowded, you have to be an especially thin supermodel to squeeze in. Yet Richard Betts, the sommelier, and Ryan Hardy, the chef, never appear exhausted. Betts, 36, is preternaturally suited for his job—he doesn’t need much sleep, and his long, slim nose fits perfectly into a wineglass. Since coming to the Little Nell in 2000, Betts has become one of the country’s great wine directors and a smart, emerging winemaker. His staff even call him "Hollywood."
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Hardy, 33, loves the kitchen no matter how crazy it gets. Soon after arriving at Montagna two years ago, from the Harbor View Hotel on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, Hardy began transforming it into a farmhouse-style kitchen. He bought an organic farm in Crawford, Colorado, where he grows vegetables and fruits for Montagna. He converted a storage room in the restaurant into an "aging room" for his homemade salumi, prosciuttos, hams and cheeses. Boyish and enthusiastic, he often asks diners if they want to see his aging room. ("No!" one jet-lagged New Yorker recently replied. "I need an anti-aging room.")