James Beard Foundation, Taste of Vail host Celebrity Chef Tour on Friday, April 7 | VailDaily.com
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James Beard Foundation, Taste of Vail host Celebrity Chef Tour on Friday, April 7

Kim Fuller
Special to the Daily
The James Beard Foundation’s Celebrity Chef Tour returns to Larkspur Restaurant on Friday, April 7, as part of the Taste of Vail culinary festival.
Rafael Bonilla Photography | Special to the Weekly |

If you go …

What: James Beard Foundation’s Celebrity Chef Tour.

When: 6 p.m. Friday, April 7.

Where: Larkspur Restaurant, 458 Vail Valley Drive, Vail.

Cost: Tickets are $195 per person and inclusive of beverages, tax and service charges.

More information: Tickets are available in person at Larkspur Restaurant in Golden Peak, or online at tasteofvail.com or jamesbeard2017.eventbrite.com.

Taste of Vail schedule

Friday, April 7

Noon to 2:30 p.m. — Mountain Top Tasting, top of Eagle Bahn Gondola, Lionshead Village; $145

3 to 4:30 p.m. — Howell Mountain exploration: Napa’s Magic Mountain, Cucina at the Lodge at Vail, Vail Village; $50

4:30 to 6 p.m. — Hard to Handle: Perfect Pairings for Difficult Dishes, Express Lift, West of Gondola One, Vail Village; $60

Saturday, April 8

9 to 10:30 a.m. — Blend with one of the Best, Bob Iantosca from Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, Grand Ballroom at Vail Marriott Mountain Resort, Lionshead Village; $50

11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — Grenache Tasting with Tablas Creek Vineyard, Matsuhisa Restaurant, Vail Village; $50

1 to 2:30 p.m. — Taste of Vail Blind Tasting with Advanced Sommelier Jeremy Campbell, The Sebastian, Vail Village; $50

1 to 2:30 p.m. — Riesling Rising: Refined, Expressive & Dry, Matsuhisa Restaurant, Vail Village; $60

3 to 4:30 p.m. — Explore the hidden treasure: Portuguese wine with Esporao, Quinta do Mouro and Master Sommelier Brett Zimmermann, The Sebastian, Vail Village; $50

6 to 9 p.m. — The Grand Tasting & Auction, Grand Ballroom, Vail Marriott Mountain Resort, Lionshead Village; $190

Package pricing for seminars and signature events is also available. Find tickets and more details at http://www.tasteofvail.com.

For the third consecutive year, Larkspur Events & Dining is working with the James Beard Foundation and Taste of Vail to host the Celebrity Chef Tour today. The event brings together six Colorado chefs to collaborate with a master sommelier and a craft cocktail bartender to create an evening of culinary craftsmanship.

“We are thrilled and humbled to have such wildly talented and passionate professionals join us to collaborate on an evening of shared hospitality,” said Thomas Salamunovich, Larkspur owner and founder and CEO of Savory Group.

This year, chef talent includes Daniel Asher, of River and Woods in Boulder; Brian Busker, of Matsuhisa Vail and Denver; Cara Luff and Hunter Chamness, of Boxcar Restaurant & Bar in Avon; James Beard Foundation award winner Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, of Frasca Food & Wine and Pizzeria Locale in Boulder; Eric Skokan, of Black Cat Bistro, Black Cat Farm, Bramble and Hare in Boulder and host chefs Bill Fitzgerald and Christian McCallion, of Larkspur.

Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey, from Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder, will be joining the event to offer his expertise throughout dinner.

“We try to find the most significant names and the nicest people who want to collaborate,” Salamunovich said. “This is really about creating a platform for all these wonderful talents to shine through.”

Every chef will be creating a passed appetizer, plus one course of the dinner. Chamness, of Boxcar in Avon, said he and Luff are looking forward to working with the other chefs in the same kitchen.

“Obviously we’re a little nervous,” he said, “but very excited to work alongside with them, see what they’re going to plate and be able to collaborate on an amazing meal together.”

Boxcar’s chef-owners will be creating course No. 2 and Chamness said it would be something unique and a spin on an old classic. The chefs all communicate before the event to choose which local purveyors to highlight and to align the courses according to what each chef decides to prepare.

“We will be using some of Colorado Meat Co.’s product in our second course,” Chamness said. “Considering that we already work with them a lot and the fact that they are in this event, as well, we wanted to extend that relationship.”

Asher, executive chef and partner of River and Woods in Boulder, is the former culinary director of The Edible Beats Group. He was a significant part of the success of Denver restaurants Root Down, Linger and Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox.

“The James Beard Chef Tour dinners are a great way to see the world outside of our own kitchens,” Asher said, “as it’s easy to get lost in a singular vision or to become too immersed in your own routine. It’s a tremendous opportunity to learn, to grow, to cook in someone else’s kitchen, to see the culture and the vibe that creates the best dining room experiences and the most memorable moments of hospitality.”

Asher said for his passed appetizer contribution, he is doing a “play on a PB&J” that was inspired by a “mind-blowing sandwich” he had at Blackbelly Butcher in Boulder a couple of months ago. He is also preparing the dessert course.

“My goal is to complement the dining experience that our guests have enjoyed and end the meal with a touch of sweet that evokes notes of spring,” he said. “I like exploring vegetables alongside desserts, as it continues the dialogue of ingredients and sourcing.”

Asher said he would be using beet juice to sweeten custard and bring it to a deep red color, and then arranging it with carrots, English peas, berries and blood orange.

“I might add a little toasted curry and some infused sea salt to keep things interesting,” he said. “I like the way sweet and savory can play nice, especially in a dessert course.”

Cocktail hour kicks off at 6 p.m. in Larkspur’s mountainside bar and dinner will begin at 6:45 p.m. in the dining room.

“We share, we gather, we compare notes, we help each other plate. That’s what creates the best art and a great dinner,” Asher said.


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