I had barely made it as far as Denver when I ran into celebrity chef Masaharu Morimoto, who was also en route to the Classic--but unlike me, he was toting 75 pounds of frozen hamachi!
Once in Aspen, I hightailed it over to Laura Werlin’s awesome American farmstead cheese and wine pairing seminar, which she led along with Brian Duncan, the wine director of the spectacular Bin 36 Restaurant and Bin wine cafe in Chicago. Eight cheeses, seven wines, a lot to learn—delicious! For a taste, check out Laura’s James Beard Award-winning The All American Cheese and Wine Book.
Next I got to hang out with the ever-spirited and energetic, wildly gesticulating and inspiring José Andrés of DC’s Jaleo, Café Atlantico, Minibar, Zaytinya and Oyamel. His gave a paella tutorial with a mission—to get everyone across America making paella. One of the secrets of a fab paella—nora peppers! Who knew! José is very big on getting home cooks to “get the ingredients talking to each other” and he swears that using the smoked Spanish parika called pimenton regularly will change your life.This amazing ambassador of Spanish cooking has a PBS show called Made in Spain that’s coming soon, and he's launching a hotel next spring with Philippe Starck in Los Angeles called SLS.