High Altitude Society: Mirabelle chef Daniel Joly will participate in 2016 Naples Winter Wine Festival
On a warm, late-summer evening, a reception was hosted at Mirabelle Restaurant in Beaver Creek honoring Belgian master chef Daniel Joly’s acceptance of an invitation to participate in the 2016 Naples Winter Wine Festival. There was a diverse meeting of minds of gastronomes, fine-wine aficionados and arts and entertainment enthusiasts, who shared stories and visions of projects and collaboration. Like most evenings at the prestigious Mirabelle Restaurant, Joly was hard at work doing what he is passionate about: cooking, entertaining and assuring that guests enjoyed themselves.
Joly moved into the Vail Valley in 1991, worked for restaurateur Luc Meyer and eventually became executive chef and co-owner of Mirabelle.
“Now, I work for my wife,” Joly said in jest, adding in regards his accent, “I went to Paris last year to judge in a competition and one of the jurists said, ‘Daniel, you speak French, like an American.’ … I have no place to live anymore.”
Entrepreneur and co-host Jonathan Rotella joined Joly during a ravioli cooking demonstration that enlightened and delighted the crowd.
‘He is our Gem’
“Before Daniel embarrasses me as a sous chef,” Rotella said, “I would like to say that I am honored that he has accepted the nomination to participate in the Naples Winter Wine Festival. I think that he is our gem in the Vail Valley. His passion, commitment, style and his personality all come together with his cuisine. And the food tastes better with the way that you speak.”
Rotella was also honored to introduce Violet Grgich, from Grgich Hills Estates, with whom he has worked on a film about her father, Vintner Hall of Fame inductee and Napa Valley legend Miljenko Grgich.
“Violet and I have been working together for some time with my involvement in ‘Judgment of Paris,’ a movie about her father and another vintner in the Napa Valley … and about a true story of the Paris Tasting of 1976 that put California wines on the map,” Rotella said.
For years, people believed that only French soils could produce great wines. When a California chardonnay won in a Paris blind tasting, it catapulted the Napa Valley into the front ranks of the leading wine-producing regions of the world.
“I hope to see my father on the big screen someday,” said Grgich, who has been involved with every aspect of the wine business and grew up accompanying her father in the vineyards and cellar. “He is 92 … and was born in Croatia as a peasant, stomping grapes at the early age of 3.”
The complete story is definitely epic and big-screen worthy.
Founding trustee Linda Malone presented an explanation of and invitation to attend the 2016 Naples Winter Wine Festival in Florida, Jan. 29-31.
“I lived in the Vail Valley part time for 20 years and in Colorado part time for my entire life, so my heart is here,” she said. “This is a very special community with wonderful, generous, fantastic people, which is why Jonathan and I see a real synergy between what we do in Naples and what you do here.”
About the festival
Malone described the three-day wine festival as the largest charity wine auction in the world.
“The festival was founded in 2000 … and we have been incredibly blessed with amazing, generous people who come to our festival every year,” she said. “Half of the people who come to the festival do not live in Florida at all. Over the last 15 years, we have netted over $135 million. Every dime that we make at auction under the tent goes directly to children, benefiting the Naples Children and Education Foundation.”
Malone expressed how honored they were to have Joly come and participate in a vintner’s dinner in a private home during the Naples Winter Wine Festival.
“Do you know what is the best part of being a guest chef?” Joly quipped. “You go into someone’s home and they say, ‘Thank you for coming,’ and you leave and the kitchen is dirty.”
“You will have a great time,” Malone assured Joly. “Your colleagues will be there; world-class vintners and world-class chefs.”
Malone closed out her comments with homage to Violet Grgich, whom she addressed as “Napa Valley royalty” and, of course, to the evening’s hosts.
“One thing that I really want to say here tonight is how lucky we are to have Jonathan and Alysa in our communities,” Malone said, referring to Rotella and his fiancee. “Not only is Jonathan an entrepreneurial wunderkind, but he is so very generous, and the beautiful Alysa at his side — it is an unbeatable pairing.”
Betty Ann Woodland is a longtime local who covers social events including fundraisers for nonprofits, galas and soirees of all kinds. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.