Eat, drink and ski at Beaver Creek’s Food & Wine Weekend | VailDaily.com

Eat, drink and ski at Beaver Creek’s Food & Wine Weekend

Kim Fuller
Daily Correspondent
Mark Destrafrano and Debbie Preno, of Scranton, Pennsylvania, wait as Ross Mizrahi, of Eagl- Vail, finishes mixing up an order of drinks designed by mixologist Alex Ott at the Meet The Chefs Reception held last year at the Beaver Creek Club. The reception kick returns Thursday evening to kick off the 2015 Beaver Creek Food & Wine Weekend.
Anthony Thornton | athornton@vaildaily.com |

Beaver Creek is serving one last course before the World Championships this year.

The fourth annual Beaver Creek Food & Wine Weekend kicks off Thursday and continues through Sunday. It once again entices guests with a menu of “Eat. Drink. Ski.” — a tantalizing trifecta.

“There’s a lot of steam behind it,” said Christian Apetz, executive chef at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek. “We’ve grown in volume year after year, and our goal is to make sure Beaver Creek is putting down a large footprint in regards to the Food & Wine event every January.”

The event spans over a long weekend and brings in some of the country’s top culinary talent to work with Beaver Creek’s well-established local chefs. Events include interactive cooking demonstrations, gourmet wine dinners, themed wine and spirit events, chef meet-and-greets and tasting receptions.

“I mean, who doesn’t love a burger? Everybody does.”
Christian Apetz
Executive chef at Park Hyatt Beaver Creek

So what happens when your stomach reaches capacity? Drop your fork and hit the slopes.

Tastes from Texas

Guest chef Matt McCallister is the chef and owner of FT33 restaurant in Dallas and was named Food & Wine’s Best New Chef for 2014. McCallister said he has been to Beaver Creek several times in the past on snowboarding visits and is looking forward to returning to be a part of this food-centric event.

“I’m going to bring a little bit of what we do, and really just have fun,” he said.

McCallister said he will take off his chef coat and strap on a snowboard when he has time throughout the weekend, since almost immediately after the festival he will head to Whistler for his annual snowboarding trip with his older brothers.

“I always have fun when I come out and do these things, so it’s gonna be a good time,” he said. “With everybody coming together to eat food and drink in the snow, it can’t be a bad thing, right?”

FT33 opened in October 2012 as McCallister’s first solo venture. He was 31 at the time. The Dallas restaurant is known for using high-quality ingredients, presented in inventive, artful dishes.

The chef will bring a sense of both Western cuisine and the FT33 style to the event: he is cooking at Zach’s Cabin with Tim McCaw, Zach’s executive chef, on Saturday for the Ski. Eat. Ski. event, which starts with a morning of skiing followed by a gourmet lunch. Tickets for the event are sold out. The first course from McCallister will be a buratta dish from FT33, and the second course will be an elk chili, which he describes as “warm and cozy.”

“Whenever I go skiing, I always like to have a bowl of soup,” he said. “It’s definitely a little more hearty, and a little more on the casual side.”

Meet the chefs

On Thursday evening, weekend participants have the opportunity to meet McCallister and other guests chefs and culinary talent at the Meet the Chefs Reception, held at the Beaver Creek Club from 6 to 9 p.m.

This year’s guest chefs include: Alex Seidel of Fruition and Mercantile Dining & Provision in Denver; Jason Patz of Denver, one of Food & Wine’s top 10 new mixologists in 2014; Nicholas Elmi, chef-owner of Restaurant Laurel in South Philadelphia, and the season 11 winner of the television show “Top Chef”; Tim Love, chef-owner of Texas restaurants Lonesome Dove, Western Bistro, Woodshed Smokehouse, Queenie’s Steakhouse, Love Shack and White Elephant Saloon; and Viet Pham, chef-owner of Forage Restaurant and Beer Bar in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Local host chefs include Apetz and McCaw, as well as David Walford (Splendido at the Chateau), Adam Roth (SaddleRidge), David Gutowski (Grouse Mountain Grill) and Kirk Weems (Allie’s Cabin).

“I applaud Beaver Creek for putting this event on every year,” said Walford, owner, executive chef and general manager of Splendido. “It’s great that they bring in guests chefs and put them up — this event is good for the resort and good for the valley.”

Walford and Splendido will host chef Seidel for the gourmet wine dinner on Friday from 7 to 10 p.m. Seidel is a guest chef to the festival for the second year in a row, and Walford said he is looking forward to working with him and the other visiting culinary leaders.

“I always look forward to working with visiting chefs and seeing what kind of cool things they might be doing and what ingredients they’re using,” he said. “It’s good for me, it’s good for my cooks and it’s good for my staff to see how they come in and do things.”

Splendido is also hosting a cooking demonstration with chef Elmi on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The “Top Chef” winner will take over Splendido’s open kitchen to show guests how he prepares the dishes they will eat, which will be paired with wines.

Walk, talk and taste

While the chef and restaurant collaborations are large highlights of the weekend, some of the most fun is had walking around and sampling.

The Mules & Manhattans event with mixologist Jason Patz runs from 3 to 6 p.m. on Friday at the 8100 dining room in the Park Hyatt. Apetz said this is the one event where the drink is king. The event is sponsored by Maker’s Mark and Maker’s 46, and has a speakeasy theme. There will even be a password required for entry.

“This event is totally beverage forward, so we’re going to make sure we give as much justice as possible to both Manhattans and Mules,” he said.

The Apres-Ski Burgers & Beers tasting on Saturday (from 3 to 6 p.m.) is back this year at the Beaver Creek Plaza.

“I mean, who doesn’t love a burger?” Apetz asked. “Everybody does.”

Apetz said his team from the Park Hyatt will be making an Indian lamb burger (slider size) with a mustard curry sauce, feta and house-made Indian bread. Pair it with a crisp IPA, he said, and all the flavors will really pop.

The great foodie finale comes on Saturday night with the Grand Tasting. Local and guests chefs, along with top-tier wine and spirits, will host an evening of tasting, music and mingling at Ford Hall in the Park Hyatt.

The Splendido team will be serving char-grilled baby octopus with charmoula carrot puree and house-made Greek yogurt. Apetz’s team will have a vegetable sous vide station, and McCallister is serving a mushroom broth soup featuring Austrian winter peas. Food from all of the participating chefs will be featured, and that’s why the tasting is so grand. Tickets for the event are $150 per person.

On Sunday, the weekend closes with the Sunday Funday Celebrity Ski Race & Brunch, which is also sold out. Apetz said the past two years have been sunny for the event, and he hopes for the same this year while he and his team defend their gold medal status.

“I’ve got a couple racing ringers on my team, that’s why we do so well,” he said. “Then brunch is a time when all the chefs get to have some drinks together and eat a really good brunch over at C Bar after we work really hard all weekend. Then we get on the mountain and have a lot of fun with each other skiing.”