Step Inside The Gluttonous Tasting Tents At The Aspen Food + Wine Classic

Food + WineLaura Werlin’s wine and cheese pairings are a highlight of the weekend.

Photo: Aly Weisman/Business Insider

This past weekend, 5,000 celebrity chefs, foodies, wine-os, and fans gathered at the sold-out Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colorado.And this wasn’t just any old foodfest, it was the festival’s 30th anniversary—and no expense was spared, including the $1,225 pass to attend the event in the first place. [We were granted a press pass.]

But if you were lucky enough to be able to drop that kind of dough, it allowed access to three days of cooking seminars, cocktail-making demonstrations, and of course, the grand tasting tents.

Every day, there were two grand tastings, where one can roam two massive tents trying glass after glass of wine from 300 exhibitors and countless nibbles of food from restaurants and brands all over the world.

If you’re not hungry yet, you will be after this.

It is always best to get to the venue early, as people line up for blocks to get inside the tasting tents.

But the line moves quickly

Once inside, it's like an adult theme park for foodies.

First, we catch celebrity chef Bobby Flay casually signing cookbooks for fans.

Then we are greeted with a Patrón tent ...

Where we are offered a watermelon jalapeno margarita

Or a Bloody Maria, as they call it.

Then, a chef from QVC (yes, they broadcast live from the festival) handed us a pulled pork sandwich.

Upon entering the tents, the first order of business is to grab a wine glass. You will use this throughout the entire hour-long grand tasting.

And then you take your glass and have it filled at one of the 300 wine-tasting booths. This is what the scene looks like inside the tents.

We tasted plenty of wine ...

From popular online wine retailer Lot 18's selection ...

To Swanson Vineyard's kitschy labels meant to be given as gifts.

But our favourite was a Riesling from Kalex Winery out of New Zealand.

There was plenty of cheese to be paired with the wine.

And the food vendors ranged from local Colorado restaurants serving ceviche tastings

To a chocolate and Acai berry chocolate pudding from Africa.

Even Korean Air had a representative

Who was passing out this native rice dish that the airline will be serving on upcoming flights.

Mexico Tourism also had a presence at the festival.

Brands ranged from Godiva chocolates

and Godiva chocolate/caramel pudding

To roast beef sandwiches showcasing Helmann's mayonnaise.

But our favourite food item we tasted all weekend was this vanilla bean ice cream topped with California Olive Ranch brand olive oil and sea salt.

Another fan favourite was this freshly-cooked shrimp and barley dish.

Kitchen Aid chefs cooked Spanish meats

and handed out meatballs (and gazpacho, which you can see in the background).

Chefs prepare all of this in a designated area on the side of the tents.

When you are done with your tastings, garbage is taken very seriously and divided into three categories.

And if your phone dies, you can always leave it in this locker to charge and then come back for it later.

Many cooking seminars take place just outside of the tasting tents, like this grilling lesson with Bobby Flay.

The best-prepared fish won, as decided by guest judges Paul Qui and John Besh.

And then as quickly as it started, the hour-long grand tasting is over. But not to worry, there are two tastings held in the tents every day for three consecutive days.

Now that you've seen what happened inside the tents ...

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