Beyond the Tent

Food & Wine Classic Without a Pass: 2016 Edition

Didn’t score a fancy lanyard? Here are 10 open-to-the-public ways to partake this weekend.

By Katie Shapiro June 15, 2016

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Heritage Fire

Image: Cochon555

The annual FOOD & WINE Classic (June 17-19) is undoubtedly Aspen’s tastiest…and toughest ticket of the summer. This year marks the legendary festival’s 34th anniversary, and more than 5,000 foodies will descend upon Aspen to indulge in the three-day culinary celebration.

 The Grand Tasting Pavilion is the epicenter of the weekend, with endless food and wine tastings, while lively cooking demonstrations, interactive seminars, and panel discussions are held at additional venues all over town.

Despite the hefty price tag (around $1,400 per pass), access is long gone—the event sells out by March every year. But, if you’re a local sans pass or decide on a last-minute weekend getaway, you can still be a part of the action. Lucky for you, the FOOD & WINE Classic folks have added a few new events this year open to the public with tickets still available and plenty of other local offerings:

1. Cheers at Chair 9
Thursday, June 16, 10:00 p.m.–1:30 a.m.; Friday, June 17, 11:00 p.m.–1:30 a.m.; Saturday, June 18, 10:00 p.m.–1:30 a.m.; The Little Nell
With a 20,000+ bottle wine cellar and award-winning cuisine, the iconic Little Nell is pretty much the unofficial headquarters during the Classic. This year, the lounge and bar Chair 9 is opening up to the public for a trio of events to celebrate late into the night. Kick off the weekend on Thursday for Dom Pérignon on-demand with beats by DJ Mayfly and Kat V. Friday features “A Mexican Revolution,” with margaritas and tacos, and Saturday gets “Shaken, Not Stirred” featuring martinis, bagels, and pastrami sandwiches. Admission is free with cash bars and à la carte menus.

2. Heritage Fire
Thursday, June 16, 5 p.m.–8:30 p.m.; Snowmass Base Village
This live-fire feast showcases local chefs Andrew Helsley (Elk Camp), Flip Wise (Meat & Cheese), Jim Butchart (Elk Camp), and Will Nolan (Eight K at Viceroy Snowmass/Ricard), along with more than 50 notable chefs and butchers who go nose to tail on 3,500 pounds of heritage breed meats and plenty of wine and cocktails to wash it all down. VIP ticket holders will be welcomed with fried chicken at a pre-reception and will have access to a specially prepared menu and priority tastings.
Tickets: $125; General Admission, $200 VIP

3. Aspen Young Professionals Association presents Food for Thought
Friday, June 17, 4:30pm–6:30pm; Shakti Shala
Join AYPA to learn how to strike a balance between work and play with presenters Aspen Entrepreneurs and Investors Network with healthy drinks and snacks from Jus Aspen.
Registration is free for AYPA members; $15 for non-members

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Food & Wine Classic 5K Charity Race

Image: Food & Wine

4. Food & Wine Classic 5K Charity Race
Friday, June 17, 7:00 a.m.–9:00 a.m.; Rio Grande Park
Earn those extra calories on this an early morning run through downtown Aspen with your favorite foodies. Proceeds from registration benefits Wholesome Wave, the national non-profit dedicated to supporting small and midsize farms, and making fresh, healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables available to underserved communities.
Registration $30 (in advance); $40 on-site

5. Resy X Oxheart at the Classic
Friday, June 17 & Saturday, June 18, 6:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m.; Mezzaluna
The latest reservation app is popping-up shop in partnership with Houston’s award-winning restaurant Oxheart. FOOD & WINE Best New Chef alum Justin Yu, with baker Karen Man, will take over Mezzaluna to present a six-course menu with wine pairings for four seatings each night.
Reservations via the Resy app or

6. Late Night Asian Speakeasy
Friday, June 17, 9 p.m.–12 a.m.; Ricard by Viceroy
Six of Washington D.C.’s celebrity chefs will prepare a family-style feast that pays homage to Chinese, Sichuan, Korean, Thai, and Japanese dishes paired with Mionetto sparkling wines. Our mouths are already watering at the inspired menu for this seated dinner.
Tickets: $125*
*A portion of the proceeds will benefit Piggy Bank, a farm devoted to giving free heritage breed pigs to family farmers

7. VIP No Badges Required Party
Saturday, June 18, 2:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m.; Sky Hotel
39 Degrees, Aspen’s notorious poolside bar and lounge, is throwing a party just for you—the lanyard-less—with tastings from Forteleza Tequila, Belvedere Vodka, and Mule 2.0 and live beats by DJ Echo. And admission is free!

8. Blackberry Farm Southern Supper
Saturday, June 18, 7:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m.; Sundeck at the top of Aspen Mountain
The luxury resort, renowned for its cuisine and wine program, is heading from its home in the hills of the Great Smoky Mountains to the top of Ajax for classic southern dishes from chefs Cassidee Dabney, Sarah Steffan, and Josh Feathers, with pairings by sommelier Andy Chabot.
Tickets: $400

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Grand Cochon

Image: Cochon555

9. Grand Cochon
Saturday, June 18, 7 p.m.–10 p.m.; Viceroy Snowmass
After a 10-city touring culinary competition, each regional winner competes for the coveted title of King or Queen of Porc, creating five dishes from more than 1,200 pounds of heritage-breed pigs. If that’s not enough, this epic finale will also feature five winemakers, a ramen bar, an artisan cheese spread, all-you-can-eat oysters, a tartare bar, and unlimited manhattans, margaritas, and rum. VIP ticket holders gain early entry and access to reserved wine, spirits, and bites.
Tickets: $150; General Admission; $200 VIP

10. Pig Roast at Meat & Cheese
Saturday, June 18 & Sunday, June 19, 11:00am—until they run out; Meat & Cheese
Chef and resident butcher Flip Wise is going whole hog to celebrate the weekend with a good ol’ fashioned pig roast of an 180-pound heritage breed from Boulder’s Niman Ranch. The $18 price tag includes a plate of pork with a barbecue peanut sesame sauce, locally grown kale slaw, baked beans, and a Hawaiian roll.

Follow us around the Food & Wine Classic all weekend for the best bites, standout sips, and chef shenanigans on social media @aspensojourner and share your experience with us using the hashtags #SOJOEATS #SOJOSIPS #FWCLASSIC.

 And if you’re a lucky passholder, don’t forget to download the official Food & Wine Classic app to help you navigate the tents!

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