Vail Today: Betty Ford Alpine Gardens hosts chef series (video) | VailDaily.com

Vail Today: Betty Ford Alpine Gardens hosts chef series (video)

By Tricia Swenson | Vail Today

There are many ways to experience the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. Known as the highest botanical garden in North America, the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens hosts over 100,000 visitors annually. Although many guests come to view the beauty, many come to learn. The Gardens offers several educational programs ranging from horticulture and photography to painting and cooking classes.

Chefs in the Gardens allow guests a unique and intimate live cooking experience.
Local chefs from area restaurants demonstrate cooking techniques and share culinary tips and recipes as well as a sampling of the prepared food following the demonstration.

This actually started out as an experiment, but it became very popular with the public and the chefs," said Nicola Ripley, executive director of the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. "We've been doing the program for about ten years," said Ripley.

The cost is $5 and the proceeds go to Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. The chefs donate their time and food. "It's a great way for the chefs to gain publicity by participating in this program,” said Ripley.

Chef Richard Bailey has been a chef at various restaurants throughout the valley for many years, but found that participating in the Chefs in the Gardens programs was helpful when he started his own catering company, Taste 5 Catering.

"When I went out on my own, it was a great way to get my food in front of people, they could taste it right there during the demo. It's the best form of advertising," said Bailey.

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The public loves it as well. Connie Gardner, from Eagle Vail, clears her schedule so she can come every week. "I have learned tips on slicing, what knives to use, how to soak things, how to add ingredients, when to add them, it's been so incredibly informative, it's amazing," said Gardner.

There are three more classes, which are held at 12:00 p.m. on Thursdays. La Tour will be featured on July 27, Pendulum on Aug. 3 and Elway’s on Aug. 10. To learn more, visit http://www.bettyfordalpinegardens.org.