Taste of Vail1s Founders1 Dinner is resurrected | VailDaily.com

Taste of Vail1s Founders1 Dinner is resurrected

Wren Wertin

Today, foodies can get a jump start on Taste of Vail festivities at the Founders1 Dinner.Taste of Vail, 12 years old this year, is now a four-day food and wine extravaganza that sets up shop in all sorts of Vail-area nooks and crannies<or slopes and restaurants. Local restaurants and their chefs use Taste of Vail as an opportunity to take their best culinary shot and provide local and visiting foodies with a staggering array of food and wine pairings. The food festival also offers a variety of seminars on everything from cigars to desserts to wine tasting.According to Holly Johnson of Johnson Communications, the festival was created for two reasons: to highlight the spectacular food of the Vail Valley, and to provide funds for local charities. Johnson Communications has been in on the planning stages of several Taste of Vails, and this year is no different.They are once again holding a Founders1 Dinner, and all of the proceeds will go toward the local charity fund.3It gives people a unique opportunity to taste the food of four of the founding restaurateurs of Taste, said Johnson.The Founders1 Dinner was first seen at the 10th Taste of Vail festival. It evolved out of a desire to 3do something special for the landmark year. Because it was so popular, they are contemplating hosting one every year, though year 11 didn1t have one.3We wanted to do something that would elevate the general knowledge of the history of the event, and to highlight the charity aspect, too, she said. 3So we re-instigated the dinner. Besides, there have been people who have been involved every year, and we want to give them credit for that.Those people include Kevin Clair of Sweet Basil, Tom Armstrong of Blu1s, Susan Fritz of Sapphire Restaurant and David Dowel of Grouse Mountain Grill. The chefs of those restaurants are responsible for an hors d1oeuvre and a course each, with a corresponding wine selection. Sweet Basil is hosting a winemaker1s dinner, but the others are using the evening as theirs.According to Bruce Yim, chef at Sweet Basil, the chefs worked independently on their menu items, but met with each other to make sure there was no overlapping in the food.Yim knew he wanted to use tuna, and he created a dish. He then paired it with a 2000 Trefethen Dry Riesling, and wasn1t ecstatic over the flavors. So he re-built the dish, and then re-built it again, finally settling on seared tuna with foie gras panna cotta and an apple shallot salad for the first course.3I wouldn1t say it was trial and error, but there was certainly a lot of tasting going on, he said.When he discovered the cost of the dinner, he knew he wanted to provide a dish that was worthy of it.3We really wanted to showcase the culinary talent and expertise of each restaurant, said Johnson.All of the money raised by Taste of Vail goes to local charities. Instead of doling out lump sums of dough, the board takes applications for specific needs or projects of local organizations. They feel in this way they are better able to control where exactly the money ends up. The board accepts applications all year.3They don1t align themselves with one charity in particular, said Johnson. 3It1s based on specific needs.This year, the Founders1 Dinner will be hosted by Sapphire Restaurant and Oyster Bar, located at 223 Gore Creek Drive in Vail Village. For reservations, call the restaurant at 476-2828. Cost is $150 per person, and includes everything. It begins at 7 p.m.Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at wrenw@vaildaily.com or phone at 949-0555 ext. 618.

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