Way back when I began creating different Food & Wine events be it in Argentina ( The Masters of Food & Wine in Mendoza ) ; Sao Paulo ( Paladar do Brasil ) ; or in Punta Mita ( Punta Mita Gourmet & Golf ) to name a few I always benchmarked off this pioneer event in Aspen. So finally I made it up to Aspen to live the experience and I was not disappointed.

Thanks to some help from my friends at Patrón I was #simplyperfect able to obtain a last minute ticket to the event. Amigos do not think you can just arrive in Aspen and get a spot – it sells out every year. I discovered that the hard way!

So, here are my takeaways from my first Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. If it whets your appetite, maybe you, too, next year will embarrass yourself and shell out some Cash in the hopes of eating caviar spaghetti, drinking from rare bottles of wine, and rubbing shoulders with celebrity chefs & winemakers.

“There are a lot of events, but this is the premier food event in this country,” said Marcus Samuelson celebrity chef whose seminar I had the opportunity to attend .The Food & Wine Classic in Aspen really is peerless when it comes to food festivals. It draws the best chefs and winemakers each year and gives attendees unparalleled access to them and their products. This is about Aspen; the town of Aspen, the people of Aspen. It’s the city that makes it so special.It couldn’t be a better backdrop. A true destination event

Yes, celebrity chefs really are everywhere, and they’re willing to chat and selfie it up with us commoners.

With 5,000 people attending the Classic, I hear you run into the same crowd over and over again, and many of those folks are celebrity chefs.

The best events believe it or not aren’t part of the festival. It’s more about getting your name on the right lists for the parties that went down each night.

Anyone who was anyone was at Patrons Tiki Night at the Little Nell including a group of new Aussies mates I met in Aspen. BTW there is a great crowd of Aussies who live in Aspen. I bumped into an old friend Catherine Simmonds who I had not seen for over 20 years and had a great time with her and her Husband Nick including attending a special tasting of Penfolds Grange and other big wines from down under.

I did also bump into Sebas Zuccardi from Zuccardi wines in Mendoza Argentina – one of my favourites from my days back in Mendoza and enjoyed a tasting in a private home in Aspen of some of their most recent releases – I managed to attend just enough events each night and this was my 1sr #aspenf&w

There is A LOT of wine.

Of the hundreds of vendors in the Grand Tasting Pavilion, the vast majority are winemakers. If tasting 300 different wines over lunch is on your bucket list, this is the place. There are $15 bottles of wine and there are $300 bottles of wine, and they are all right there for your drinking pleasure. You will never go thirsty at this festival.

When it comes to food, it’s quality over quantity.

I was surprised by A. how much better the food was than I expected, and B. how scarce that food was. Because they’re feeding so many people, I didn’t think that the food would be that great. It was. But it was not available all that often.

Aspen restaurants were overflowing with people who didn’t want to battle the crowds for bites of chocolate at the Grand Tasting.

You’ll learn something.

The seminars and cooking demos are treasure troves of information for home cooks. I attended Samuelsons.Even if you’re unimpressed by the chefs’ rock-star status in the culinary world, you’ll appreciate the inspiration they provide.

All in all it was memorable – I bumped into friends including Jose Maria & Maribel Zaas from Argentina , did not get ( or get into ) The American Express Platinum House ; had great dinners with my mate Brendan Wood at the Little Nell & Ajax Tavern ; slipped in 2 rounds of golf at Snowmass and met some really nice people who all share the same passions I have – food wine & people. I hope to make it back in 2019 and thank Patron for allow me to be part of the 2018 edition. Thanks Brendan for joining me and lending a helping hand.