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‘Eat, drink and be merry’ in Beaver Creek

Caramie Schnellcschnell@vaildaily.comVAIL CO, Colorado
Thomas H. Green | Vail Resorts
ALL |

And you thought it was hard to get through airport security with a carry-on bag and travel-size toiletries. On Thursday, when Chef Stephanie Izard shows up at the airport in Chicago, she’ll have a suitcase and six boxes filled with carefully prepped ingredients, including two pig heads, in tow. Izard and her butcher, Norbert Muniz, leave Thursday morning to head west to Beaver Creek’s Food & Wine culinary festival, which kicks off today. “We use a lot of local farm stuff, so it’s easier when I’m traveling out of town to bring some of it with us,” Izard said. “… It’s not something we can just bust out in Beaver Creek.”Izard will take part in three festival events, including Saturday’s Lunch and Learn demonstration with Christian Apetz, exec chef at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek. During the event, held at the Vilar Performing Arts Center, the pig heads will be unveiled on stage and Muniz will demonstrate his knife skills. “He can clean a pig face in a minute and 15 seconds,” Izard said during a phone interview on Wednesday. “It’s fun to put him on the spot because he gets embarrassed. But people love it, though.”At Izard’s Chicago eatery, Girl & The Goat, Muniz butchers around 60 pig heads per week to make what Izard calls a “pig-face sandwich.””We take all the meat off, roll it up with spices, braise it overnight in a log shape, then take it out, chill it, slice it and pan fry it in a wood-fired oven,” Izard said. “It’s like a sausage McMuffin, done better.”The meat will be served on a pork-fat crumpet, as a riff on a Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich, to attendees of Saturday’s event. Apetz is preparing the other menu items, which include burnt-sugar barbecue brisket with tarro chip-carrot currant slaw, a trout chowder and, for dessert, a sweet-potato brulee with gingersnap florentine.

This is Izard’s second time attending a Beaver Creek culinary festival. She was here last year, when it was still a Bon Appetit-sponsored event. “It was a ton of fun,” she said. This is the first time Food & Wine is putting on the festival, and Izard has experience working with both groups, she said. “I’ve done a couple of events with Bon Appetit and a number with Food & Wine. They’re both great groups to work with. They both want guests to eat, drink and be merry for a few days.”Food & Wine had been talking with Beaver Creek for “awhile now” about partnering for the event, said VP/Publisher Christina Grdovic. “The time was right to work together,” she said. “The Food & Wine festival formula is to work closely with a great partner to form a world class event combining top talent in a beautiful destination.”The magazine hosts the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen each summer; this year’s festival, set for June 15-17, is the 30th anniversary of the festival. Food & Wine seems to be breaking into the wintertime festival market with this partnership.”Obviously we’ve always been big fans of Colorado and now we’re thrilled to be here in summer and winter,” Grdovic said. “We know the Colorado food scene is very exciting. Food & Wine editors are all about discovering food from all over the country and not just the biggest cities. In 2005, Food & Wine editors named local Boulder chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson a ‘Best New Chef.'”Frasca Food and Wine chef Mackinnon-Patterson is attending this year’s festival. He’s the recipient of the 2008 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef. There’s a slew of other celebrity chefs in town for the event, including Izard, who was named one of the best new chefs of 2011 by Food & Wine and who remains the only female chef to ever win Bravo’s Top Chef.”We invited chefs we knew would put on a great show and would enjoy the outdoors,” Grdovic said. “Tim Love for example, is coming early and bringing his whole family to ski.”We pride ourselves on offering food fans access to world-renowned chefs,” she continued. “John Besh, Tim Love, Marc Murphy, Stephanie Izard, Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson and Richard Sandoval are teaming up with local host chefs to prepare amazing meals and offer these seminars and classes in a casual setting. If you are looking for something more intimate, there are exclusive dinners with menus prepared by these celebrity chefs.”High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at cschnell@vaildaily.com or 970-748-2984.


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