Top Three Aspen Highlights

By Kate Krader Posted June 22, 2009

© Riccardo Savi/Food & Wine Magazine
Hosea, Tom and Jacques

Yes, F&W is back in New York (recovering) after our Classic in Aspen. This year's festival was awesome and action-packed, and there were hundreds of highlights; here are three of mine.

* Best New Chef Party: On Saturday night, our outstanding 2009 BNCs cooked for some 500 guests, who got to vote for their favorite dish via text message. F&W editors loved it all, including Christopher Kostow's roasted corn custard and Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook's pork belly sliders. (The winner: Nate Appleman, the group's most tech-savvy chef, who launched a successful Facebook campaign for his pork meatballs.)

* Top Chef Quickfire Challenge: On Sunday morning, Season 4 winner Stephanie Izard faced off against Season 5 winner Hosea Rosenberg. They each had help—Izard's sous-chef was star chef Ming Tsai; Rosenberg's was the great Jacques Pépin. At the judging table: Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, Dana Cowin and Todd from Florida, who donated $15,000 to charity for that judging seat. Highlights included Tsai handing off his American Express black card (who knew??) as a bribe to Todd, and Rosenberg, who knew about Colicchio's secret passion for gummy bears and added the candies to his melon cocktail. In the end, Rosenberg and Pépin and their lobster with coral butter and Wheaties green tomatoes beat out Izard and Tsai's hangover pizza topped with lobster and a poached egg.

* The After-Parties: You absolutely don't need one more party in Aspen. Still, anyone who can get in eventually finds themselves at the members-only, late-night party at 212 House. Some people hate it, but a lot of good stories start with the phrase, "Oh man, last night, at 212 House...." There's a what-happens-at-212-stays-there mentality; I won't be the one to break the code of silence. But I will say that Colicchio and Joe Bastianich's band, who performed everything from the Steve Miller Band's “The Joker” to Oasis's “Wonderwall,” get better as the night goes on; that there are several notable chefs who hopefully won't see themselves dancing on YouTube; and that our Best New Chefs are as good at doing shots as they are at cooking.

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