Local chef David Walford of Splendido says there's a special energy in the air at the Beaver Creek Food & Wine Weekend. "I think everyone puts a little more effort into this one," he said. "I feel like all the local restaurants step up when you have all these renowned people from out of town here, it raises the bar a little."And while Walford thinks it's the celebrity faces from out of town that give the event its energy, many of those industry figureheads say they come to the event for the energy that's already here. "The setting just couldn't be any more perfect," says chef John Besh, who owns a handful of renowned restaurants and has appeared on "Top Chef Masters," "Iron Chef America" and "The Food Network Challenge.""Getting up, getting a good workout on the mountain and then coming back and enjoying a gourmet meal, it's like heaven for me," said Besh. "And to participate from a chef's standpoint is particularly fun because at this event, it's small enough where I can actually get together and interact with the guests that come."The Beaver Creek Wood & Wine Weekend 2013 begins Thursday with a Meet the Chefs Reception from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Black Diamond Bistro at The Charter in Beaver Creek, and continues through Sunday where the last event will be the Celebrity Chef Ski Race & Brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. In between is a host of other fun-filled opportunities; tickets are sold individually to each event and are available at beavercreek.com/foodandwine.'Food and life lessons'With Food and Wine Magazine, "Wine Wise Guy" Anthony Giglio gets to travel all over the planet to great events."It's the greatest job in the world," he said, speaking over the phone from his home in New York. One of the elements he likes best about the Beaver Creek Food & Wine event is the intimate setting the ski resort atmosphere creates."It's contained into the little village, which is just awesome. You walk everywhere, and there's something to see and something to do in every direction," he said. A realist in the world of wine, he points out the fact that within the friendly confines of Beaver Creek Village and the Food & Wine Weekend, there's no need to operate a vehicle."It's a big plus for adults worried about enjoying the wine component and having to get around," he said.But his favorite part of the event is something very children oriented. "My daughter Sofia is nine and my son Marco is seven, they put skis on for the first time last year, and they didn't want to get off the mountain for three days straight," he said. As far as food and wine goes, Giglio is most excited about the friends of James Beard Benefit Dinner with chef Besh on Friday night. "I love the dinner at Allie's Cabin because we take the open sled up the mountain with a bunch of blankets on, everyone's trying to keep warm," he said. "It's really cool for us because we have nothing like that here in New York."Besh says like Giglio, he also appreciates the fact that he can enjoy the event with his family."My wife Jenifer and I love the Catholic mass up there," Besh said. "It's right there, standing room only with a great priest."He says at the dinner at Allie's Cabin, he plans on forgoing his typical New Orleans flair and getting back to some of his roots with an alpine-inspired menu. After serving in the first Iraq war in the '90s, Besh studied culinary arts near Oberammergau at the base of the German Alps."It's a place where I learned so many food and life lessons," he said. "I just fell in love with the cuisine there ... when I think of food and I think of skiing that's what really resonates with me - kasespatzle and wild game and that sort of thing. I'm really looking forward to putting a lot of this together again this year."Giglio says for that event, they'll be serving merlot from La Jota and cabernet from Mt. Brave Wines. 'Full circle'Chef Sam Talbot, who was voted a fan favorite on the Bravo hit show "Top Chef," will be on hand at both the Grand Tasting on Saturday night and the Bright Future Foundation Benefit Dinner on Friday night. Sheri Mintz, executive director of Bright Future Foundation, says while the foundation is blessed to be a part of some pretty special events here in the Vail Valley, meeting chef Talbot is sure to be among the highlights of the year for her."We all really fell in love with him on 'Top Chef,'" said Mintz, "So to have him here at Splendido and in support of the Bright Future Foundation is a dream come true."It's a dinner the wine wise guy is particularly excited about, as well. Giglio will be pairing all the wines from the Hundred Acre family, including the Layer Cake Central Coast Chardonnay, Cherry Pie Pinot Noir, Garnacha, their Italian red called "If You See Kay," and the rare Hundred Acre 2007 Ancient Way Shiraz."If you can get your hands on it, it sells for $400 a bottle," Giglio says of the 2007 Ancient Way Shiraz. "If you can find it it's usually through the winery or through a collector. They sell it in three packs, which range from $850 to $1,000 per three pack."For Talbot's part, he plans on serving figs brazed Koren style, an 18-hour pork shoulder with white beans, white sesame and pink grapefruit, and roasted yams with a prawn vinaigrette."Just a few things we've been working on and I've been wanting to try out in my own home kitchen," said Talbot. An avid snowboarder, Talbot says he's especially excited about the on-mountain component of the event. "I grew up snowboarding in the Appalachian Mountains," he said. "And started working resort towns all over the country."He said after relocating to New York, a visit to the ski town scene where he started his quest to become the chef he is today will be a homecoming of sorts."That's how I started cooking, by going from mountain to mountain," he said with a chuckle. "I guess it always comes full circle at some point."
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