ASPEN, COLORADO The 35th annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen kicks off Friday and will include several new elements for the milestone year. One of the most exclusive food festivals—only 5,000 food and wine enthusiasts can attend—the gathering also reliably attracts the food industry’s top power players. Here’s a look at this year’s new seminars, sponsor activations, and private events.
Dubai in the Sky Atop Aspen Mountain
The festival will celebrate its milestone year atop Aspen Mountain Friday night with an anniversary party inspired by its sponsor, Emirates. The traditional “Top of the Mountain” party will be renamed “Dubai in the Sky” in honor of the airline, a first-time sponsor. Hosted by Food & Wine editor in chief Nilou Motamed, the invite-only bash will feature aspects of Dubai’s culture through authentic cuisine and a DJ spinning traditional music.
The airline, which takes pride in its wine program, will continue its sponsorship at the Grand Tasting. Its “Flight Path Bar” experience will offer a guided tasting of champagne and red and white wines served with small bites.
Last Call Late-Night With Tim Love and Zac Brown
Sold-out even prior to revealing the final details, the Friday-night Casa Tua party will feature after-hours tacos, Z. Alexander Brown wines, cocktails by Honey Salt at JW Marriott Parq Vancouver, and a listening party featuring songs from Zac Brown’s new album, Welcome Home. The event is sponsored by American Express.
American Express Platinum House x Stephanie Izard
Following a similar activation at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April, the inaugural American Express Platinum House x Stephanie Izard in Aspen will feature programming and tasting events from the decorated Chicago chef. A weekendlong perk for Platinum and Centurion card members, the space will offer bites, cocktails by Hella Cocktail Co., wines from Z. Alexander Brown, and a pop-up greenhouse from Gotham Greens. In addition, card members can sign up for guided meditation sessions from the Big Quiet; SoulCycle classes overlooking Aspen Mountain; and beauty bar services from DryBar, Olive & June, and Glossier. Those who want to keep up with the U.S. Open golf tournament, which American Express also sponsors, can watch the action in a dedicated viewing lounge. Izard will also host a Friday Taste Around and a Greatest of All Time—a.k.a. G.O.A.T., a play on her restaurant Girl & the Goat—late-night event on Saturday.
Ice Cream Indulgences
“Every Story Has a Flavor,” a seminar moderated by Motamed, will feature Brooklyn-based Ample Hills Creamery, along with chefs Anne Burrell, Curtis Stone, and Ming Tsai, who will share notable memories of flavors that have defined their careers. Ample Hills will then create special flavors for all three chefs. The creamery is also developing a 35th anniversary flavor for the Classic, which will be available for purchase.
In addition, guests can cool off Friday and Saturday afternoons outside of the St. Regis Aspen with complimentary milk and honey soft serve from the NoMad food truck, which is partnering with the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express. All Classic patrons have access to the frozen delicacy, but those who hold the credit card will receive a bonus treat: New York-based NoMad’s signature granola.
Dan White’s Magic Show Debut
Another new venture for the festival is a Saturday-night show from NoMad resident magician Dan White. The show at the St. Regis—another partnership with American Express, Marriott International, and the NoMad—gives SPG card members exclusive access to the show and after-party featuring DJ and electric violinist Kat V. Cocktails and bites will come from NoMad Bar.
The Height of Good Taste Dinner
A ride up the Silver Queen gondola will bring ticketholders to this Saturday-night dinner party right around sunset. Guests will be welcomed with mountain views followed by an indoor seated dinner from brothers Michael and Bryan Voltaggio of Top Chef fame and wine pairings from Kendall-Jackson. San Pelligrino/Aqua Pana is sponsoring the event.
Somm Society Launch
The Classic will be home to the first meeting of the Somm Society, a new 50-member group of elite sommeliers. Ray Isle, Food & Wine’s executive wine editor, will host the gathering, which includes networking, seminars, and a private lunch event. The society has plans to continue its mission following the initial get-together in Aspen.
Premiere of Farewell Feast: A Bubbly Brunch
Organizers added a ticketed event on Sunday—a first for the festival. The setting is the town’s famed Hotel Jerome, and the event will be sponsored by Mionetto Prosecco. Attendees can expect dishes from cult Los Angeles eatery Eggslut, pastries from Johnny Iuzzini, and bottomless brunch cocktails.