By Shawn Chitnis

The Food & Wine Classic in Aspen brings together the who’s who of the culinary world each year and is celebrating its 35th anniversary. CBS4’s Shawn Chitnis is covering the people connected to Colorado that make this the premiere event for the industry.

ASPEN, Colo. (CBS4) – The best food and wine from all over the world gets showcased each year at one of the culinary industry’s top events, but this year organizers made sure to highlight some of the best ingredients from the state that hosts the event with the help of TV judge and author Gail Simmons.

“We all talk about being local, eating local and it only made sense,” Simmons said to CBS4. “Here we are.”

aspen food wine 1 Colorado Cuisine Highlighted At 2017 Food & Wine Classic

(credit: CBS)

The food writer and “Top Chef” judge teamed up with the Colorado Tourism Office to offer a seminar called “Rocky Mountain Flavor” at the 2017 Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. Simmons has come here for years and has helped to put on the annual event in the past. But the veteran of the Classic admits she hadn’t explored much of Colorado until recently when her show shot their 15th season traveling around the state this spring. The show spent six weeks on the road visiting several cities.

“The best thing that I think kind of differentiates Colorado from all the other places and cities that we’ve shot is just how outdoors we’re able to be,” Simmons said about the latest season of “Top Chef” that finished production in June. “Every view, every vista is perfect, gorgeous, green, huge blue sky.”

aspen food wine 3 Colorado Cuisine Highlighted At 2017 Food & Wine Classic

(credit: CBS)

Taking from her new exposure to so much of Colorado she prepared a meal for attendees of the Classic over the weekend featuring a variety of local favorites. The dishes she made included lamb, potatoes, goat cheese, and cherries. She joked with the audience about the importance to enjoy every piece of the food you cook.

“If you take nothing away from my seminar, take the crispy bits,” she told the audience.

aspen food wine 2 Colorado Cuisine Highlighted At 2017 Food & Wine Classic

(credit: CBS)

Simmons emphasized that it is essential to use ingredients when they are at the peak of their season and was excited to have some of the items from Colorado ripe for her demonstration. The decision to highlight cuisine from Colorado comes at a time when industry observers like Simmons say the local restaurant scene is getting national recognition.

“It’s just an interesting time to be here,” she said. “Especially in Denver, there is such an influx of young people.”

Simmons says while there was plenty of good food they enjoyed during production of the new season of “Top Chef” over six weeks, one standout was actually a popular beverage in the Mile High City.

aspen food wine 4 Colorado Cuisine Highlighted At 2017 Food & Wine Classic

(credit: CBS)

“One of the most amazing things in Denver is beer,” said Simmons. “Like the beer scene is amazing.”

She says the attention the city and state are getting within the food world is likely related to the growth of the economy as a whole and the huge increase in population over recent years.

“When you bring young people, you know, high school grads, college grads,” said Simmons. “They bring a different energy and they all come hungry and the service industry is where they all find jobs and that’s how they push the industry forward.”

Shawn Chitnis reports on CBS4 This Morning. Email him story ideas at and connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.


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