FOOD & WINE has a long history with the resort community of Aspen, Colorado. For over 30 years, the town has hosted the annual FOOD & WINE Classic, one of the nation’s premier culinary events. Thus, when FOOD & WINE wanted to create a unique and innovative restaurant, Aspen was the logical choice.
Chefs Club by FOOD & WINE, located in the beautiful St. Regis Aspen resort, is a partnership between Chefs Club USA and FOOD & WINE. The venture brings together the culinary expertise of the winners of the magazine’s signature Best New Chefs awards to create a one-of-a-kind menu of seasonally inspired cuisine.
The chefs curating the current menu at Chefs Club by FOOD & WINE at the St. Regis Aspen include Jason Franey of Canlis in Seattle; Missy Robbins of New York City; Viet Pham of Forage in Salt Lake City and Bryant Ng of The Spice Table in Los Angeles.
The history of the Chefs Club by FOOD & WINE aside, we were excited to indulge in the experience.
The first thing we have to note is the ambiance of the restaurant. It is casual, yet elegant. In a nod to the community’s most famous pastime, the ceiling sports a pattern of large, cutout snowflakes. Also, on the walls is a series of stunning metallic chromogenic prints by Paul Gerben featuring some of the the most famous icons from music and film, including Frank Sinatra, U2, Marilyn Monroe, Mike Tyson, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison.
The menu offers a nice variety of meats, as well as three fish and three pasta entrees. But we really appreciated the locally-inspired offerings, including a Double Elk Chop and a Colorado Lamb Porterhouse. On this evening, we decided to go with the restaurant’s featured pairings – six courses complete with drinks. It was an ideal way to sample a wide variety of dishes – plus take advantage of the staff’s wine expertise.
The food and drinks were, from start-to-finish, excellent. Routine dishes, like the locally sourced chicken, rivaled a fine steak. From the appetizers, the Cauliflower Tempura by Bryant Ng was as close to perfection as possible. The batter was light and mouth watering. From our experience, and that of our fellow diners, the entrees did not disappoint. The Grilled Asian Spicy Beef Ribs got raves.
Each course of the meal was accompanied by a concise and informative description of the wine pairing. We appreciated the learning experience. The Benovia Cohn Vineyard Pinot Noir was a big hit.
Chefs Club by FOOD & WINE at the St. Regis Aspen isn’t complete without a nod to the staff. From the moment we entered the restaurant, they were a treat. Everyone was approachable, friendly and helpful. The chef even took time to talk with us about our own culinary experiences around the world.
Atmosphere. Food. Wine. Staff. They all clicked at the Chefs Club by FOOD & WINE. It makes for a great experience. It’s a must visit for anyone spending the night in Aspen. And it’s a winning formula – taking up-and-coming chefs and having them help craft a one-of-a-kind menu with local influences.
Currently, the Aspen location is the only Chefs Club experience, but the folks at Chefs Club USA and FOOD & WINE will be opening second location in New York in 2014.
Alex has written for Vanity Fair, Barrons, Bloomberg and Condé Nast Traveler.