Vail Daily column: Forum continues dialog of modern food renaissance
There’s just something about sitting down for a meal that allows people to automatically peel back the first couple layers of their personal onion. When you meet someone at a business meeting, on the street or at an event, it’s a very civil interaction of, “Yes, pleasure to meet you … this is what I do … OK, that is what you do … here’s my card.”
But when you sit down at a table and you add the elements of beautiful lighting and enticing smells, with some sort of chatter in the background — chairs shuffling, music playing and people interacting — I think it helps people relax, unfolding like the napkin they so naturally rest on their lap.
Gateways to Connection
Food, drink, dining and the like, are all gateways to connection. It’s hard to find common ground sometimes, but when individuals are all sitting at the same level, and at the same table for the shared experience of eating the same meal, this creates a really lovely commonality.
To elicit this connection in Vail this month, I will be preparing a dinner on Friday evening of the Vail Living Well Forum for Optimum Health. As this country is becoming increasingly interested in quality, wholesome food sourcing and preparation, Colorado is taking a strong stance on the integrity of consumption, which is great to see.
From the moment I met Jamie and John Stone and learned about the warm, convening and collaborative atmosphere they had created for Vail Living Well, I was inspired by its mission to activate health and well-being on a broad level. Last year for Vail Living Well, I shared a demonstration on cold-pressed juice — an interactive and informative activity that created a hands-on experience for people to connect with quality ingredients.
Medium of Expression
Food is such an exceptional medium of expression. You can go somewhere and look at a painting, and someone can tell you why they are inspired by it, and you continue to stare at the painting, which can be a very sensual experience. But if that painting were edible, and you were able to take a bite of that painting and have all the different colors be different spices, you could then connect all those flavors to the experience of what you see, smell, feel and taste — all at one time. I think this experience can be incredibly transformative for anyone.
The philosophy behind food sourcing at our restaurants is basically one of meticulous research and constant passion. Through the farm-to-table movement — which I think is a very exhausted term at this point because everyone has been throwing it around so casually — came the demand of more transparency and information to be served to guests.
This ties in to the phenomenal renaissance of people wanting fresh milk delivered to their doorstep; of them wanting to walk down the street to a butcher and talk to him about a certain cut of meat; of an increased interest in farmers markets and CSA shares. These were things that were virtually extinct in this country, except in small towns where not much has changed, but the art of food was generally lost for a while — totally smothered by excess and convenience and cheap calorie production.
It’s exciting to see the movement of consumer consciousness evolve. Vail Living Well is here to help us put the dialog into motion, so that a delicious meal coated with genuine hospitality is just as transformative as any other form of wellness awareness.
Daniel Asher is the culinary director of Edible Beats, the collaborative culinary group of Root Down and Linger restaurants in Denver, with two new projects scheduled for 2015. The Vail Living Well Forum for Optimum Health is an invite only event with some spots still available. The public is invited to attend live ForumX Talks on Friday from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Sonnenalp Hotel. The free talks feature four innovative speakers, and attendees will learn cutting edge research on health and well-being topics.