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Aspen Food and Wine Classic: Overserved

So, June 20-22, 2014 is the Aspen Food and Wine Classic. I have a really funny story to tell you. Let’s start with a little background… My family is a “foodie family.” We always have been. It is who we are. My grandmother was an amazing cook and her recipes are cherished. My aunt, Judy Sipe, was the Chief Culinary Officer for the Food Channel. My mother taught cooking classes out of our house. A seat at my mother’s dinner table was coveted. So, growing up, we did not do “regular” food. Everything was an ordeal. A gourmet ordeal. Sometimes it was a little embarrassing. For example, growing up in Springfield, Missouri, I was the only kid whose mother had cornichons in the refrigerator. I was so happy in high school to meet my friend, future chef Giada DeLaurentiis, whose family was as obsessed with food and cooking as mine was. Everyone teased Giada when she brought blood oranges in her school lunch. I was like, “Isn’t that normal?” All my family ever talked about was food and decorating.

Right after I graduated from high school, my mother opened a gourmet cooking shop in Malibu, California. It was called EveryDay Gourmet. As usual, with everything my mother does, it was remarkable. We had all of the top-of-the-line cooking tools, dishes, cookbooks, gourmet food items, cookware, espresso makers, bread makers, copper pots, napkins, tablecloths, flatware, etc.. I stole something from the store every day so within two years my kitchen was a mini Williams-Sonoma.

My idea of a fun afternoon was reading cookbooks. It was in my blood. In 1994, I was lucky enough to “work for free” at my mother’s second cousin’s resort, Big Cedar Lodge. I had the run of the Café called Truman’s Cottage. It was a little gourmet deli for the hotel guests. Since nepotism was occurring, I was allowed to use the main restaurant’s supplies for anything that I wanted in my little café. I loved working at the Truman’s Cottage Café but I really wanted to go to cooking school. I applied to The Culinary Institute of America. The main chef at Big Cedar Lodge wrote an outstanding reference for me and I was accepted! A big deal, a very big deal. Unfortunately, the same week I was accepted, I found out I was pregnant with Gracie. No cooking school for me. Thanks Grace. Just kidding.


So, as you can see, food is not just food to us. My most cherished photograph is one with me, Gracie, my mother and Julia Child! When I met her, I almost had a bloody heart attack. Flash forward years later to the Aspen Food and Wine Classic. We were living in Aspen at the time and the Food and Wine Classic is one of the highlights of the year in Aspen. Here’s what the locals do… They sign-up to “volunteer” at the Food and Wine Classic. No one ever has any intention of actually “volunteering.” Aspen locals just want to get in for free (it’s super expensive) and have full behind the scenes access. My mother, my ex-husband, my father and I were lucky enough to score 4 exclusive volunteer passes. My mother and I were so excited to see all of the famous chefs, attend all of the cooking demonstrations, taste all of the culinary delights and just be in our world of food. My father was excited to have free wine. My poor ex-husband had no idea what was in store for him that day.

So, the funny story is about my mother. A little background. My mother does not drink, has never done drugs, has never stayed out past 11:30 PM, has never smoked a cigarette, does not swear, goes to church and is a perfect lady. Basically she’s a total bore. But not this day! My mother’s vice is food… Particularly “sweets.” My mother once told our family that she did not like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. However, she continued to say , “But, if I Had to eat a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, I would.” We were like, “Really, Mom? When would you Have To eat a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup? In what situation would you be forced to eat a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup?”

Anyway, so here we are at the Aspen Food and Wine Classic. Everything is going perfectly until my lovely mother is offered a little tasting cup of a new sweet mango drink. Unbeknownst to her, it was an alcoholic drink. It was so sweet and delicious that she did not notice the alcohol. So what does she do? She has about 40 of them. In about an hour. None of us noticed because we were off selfishly stuffing our faces with food and alcohol samples. I remember someone coming up to me, pointing, and saying, “Is that your mother?” I look over and there is my fancy, well raised, well-respected mother slumped over in a chair in the hot Aspen summer sun like a Raggedy Ann doll drunk as a skunk at the Aspen Food and Wine Classic! I was mortified. I’m pretty sure I pretended like she wasn’t my mother. I ran to get my father and ex-husband to help. We decided that we needed to get her out of there without anybody noticing. No such luck. Apparently, my mother is a loud drunk. I don’t know what she said but her volunteer pass was removed from her neck by security. In addition to that, my lovely mother was getting kicked out of the Aspen Food and Wine Classic!

Envision this… A grown woman with her coiffed hair and capri pants being dragged out of the Aspen Food and Wine Classic. She could not walk. My ex-husband and my father were on each side of her dragging her out with her ballet flats dragging in the dirt behind her. I swear to God! My mother! Miss Manners, Miss Emily Post, Miss I Care What People Think about Me, Miss Fancy Pants. I have never laughed so hard in my entire life. I was laughing but I was also like, “Wait, should we take mom to the hospital?” My father refused. I think he would rather have had her die of alcohol poisoning in private than humiliating her and taking her to a hospital where her stomach would’ve been pumped. She sobered up after a couple of days and honestly, I think she immediately moved out of Aspen.

Isn’t that funny? So, Aspen Food and Wine Classic 2014. If you haven’t ever been, I totally encourage you to check it out. Charming town, amazing food, incredible wines, celebrity chefs and free-flowing booze.

Aspen Food and Wine Classic
June 20-22, 2014
Aspen, Colorado

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