Beaver Creeks epicurean experience |

Beaver Creeks epicurean experience

Melanie WongVail CO, Colorado

BEAVER CREEK, Colorado Some may religiously TiVo Iron Chef on the Food Network, and know the competing chefs pedigrees and specialties by heart, but there is something about hearing the sizzle of the pan and smelling the aroma of the food.

Spectators at tonights MasterChef Competition will get to do just that experience the smells and sounds of culinary competition firsthand. The event is part of the 10th annual Bon Appetits Culinary and Wine Focus, a three-day food and drink festival at Beaver Creek. Foodies, wine connoisseurs or just the culinarily curious can meet celebrity chefs from around the world, take cooking and wine seminars, and watch the chefs square off in competition both in the kitchen and on the slopes.

Its about luxury and adventure, and culinary events and wine are a part of that, said Tony ORourke, executive director of Beaver Creek Resort Co.

The Master Chef Competition features three rounds of Iron Chef-like competition, where chefs go head-to-head creating a three-course meal from a surprise ingredient. In past years, the surprise ingredients have included Colorado Lamb and Kobe beef. The rounds are 20 minutes each, and a panel of judges from bon appetit magazine and an Italian food writer will judge the dishes on quality, creativity and time. Iron Chef Cat Cora will provide play-by-play commentary so spectators can follow the action.Round one will be the host chef/amatuer chef competition. Splendido executive chef David Walford will team up with James Deighan, owner of Highline Sports and Entertainment and Daniel Joly, Mirabelle executive chef will team up with Steve Pope, Colorado Mountain News Media general manager.Round two will be the guest chef competition. Atlanta chef Shaun Doty will square off against Los Angeles chef Suzanne Tracht.It will be guys versus girls. Well see whos better in the kitchen, ORourke said.Round three will be a challenge against the reigning MasterChef champion, Ming Tsai of Blue Ginger restaurant in Boston. He will compete against one of the visiting Italian chefs, Claudio Vignali.The chefs will compete on full-service, fully stocked, mobile kitchens on the Vilar Center stage. Spectators can follow the action live from on-stage cameras, and food and cocktails will be served between rounds.

This years Culinary and Wine Focus kicked off Thursday with a taste of the food, wine and fashion of Florence. The clothing of several Florence designers was presented, and several of Florences top chefs are in attendance at the culinary events throughout the weekend.Beaver Creek chefs, like Splendido executive chef David Walford and Grouse Mountain Grill executive chef Joe Ritchie, will be showcased alongside the celebrity guest chefs.If youre from the valley, you can see the chef whose food youve experienced in a whole different way, and also see them next to chefs from around the country, Ritchie said.And of course it is a good time for the chefs, too.Its a lot of fun. You get to meet people from around the world, Ritchie said. And they are all professionals, or they wouldnt be here. Theyre on the cutting edge of the cooking scene.On Saturday, the chefs will compete at a different venue the slopes. The chefs will be grouped in teams of four to race down a slalom course on Beaver Creeks Haymeadow run. Reigning MasterChef champion Ming Tsai is also last years ski race winner.Actually, most of the chefs are expert skiers, ORourke said. These people are very competitive.The festival will close with the Grand Tasting Event, one of the weekends quickest ticket sellers. About 35 Beaver Creek and guest chefs and 20 wineries will serve samples to about 500 guests.The grand tasting is a fun way for the chefs to put twists on some of their classic dishes or to try out new dishes on a crowd of 500 people, Ritchie said.The growth of the event over the years shows peoples increased interest in the culinary world, said ORourke. Guests come from the valley, the Front Range and even out-of-state to attend the festival, he said.Theres an army of foodies out there there are as many people subscribing to Food Network as ESPN. There are a growing number of people with an appreciation for food and the arts, ORourke said.Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or

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