The Food & Wine Classic in Aspen isn’t just an opportunity to rub elbows with big-name chefs, master sommeliers, and restaurateurs, it’s also a wealth of information. Here, my favorite tidbits from the three action-packed days of seminars, the American Express Restaurant Trade Program, and the grand tastings.
On the responsibility of feeding people: “I am a cook, I am a mashed potato maker. I’m not a doctor. My role in life is to excite your appetite, not to control it.” —Jacques Pépin, internationally known culinary icon, TV personality, and cookbook author
On being a minority in the kitchen: “When you get a platform and you’re the only one in the room, you need to do everything you can not to be the only one in the room.” —Marcus Samuelsson, chef-owner Red Rooster, Street Bird, and cookbook author
On trends gone too far: “Kale. I’m sorry, there’s a whole beautiful organic world out there.” —Tamron Hall, co-host of Today’s Take and anchor of MSNBC Live with Tamron Hall
On pursuing a career in cooking: “How passionate are you really? Does that passion translate to 2 to 3 a.m. and Christmas? It’s not going to be quick, it’s not going to be a direct path, but it’s going to keep moving you forward if you’re passionate about the pursuit. Do you really love it when no when else is looking?” —Christina Tosi, chef-owner of Milk Bar, cookbook author, and television personality
On the industry impact of meal service companies like Blue Apron: “I’m about experience. I don’t see a first date with Blue Apron.” —Michael Jacobs, president of Corner Table Restaurants
On wine: “Use sparkling wine to refresh your palate.” —Bobby Stuckey, master sommelier, co-owner of Frasca Food and Wine and Pizzeria Locale
On mentorship: “When you share something personal with someone, you don’t know what that means to someone. Asking ‘what’s next for me,’ that’s brave and that’s how you make a change in a positive direction. It’s doing all these things and sharing it with others that defines a mentor.” —Andrew Zimmern, TV personality, chef, food writer
On technology and social media: “Good technology doesn’t replace an interaction, it’s meant to enhance it.” —Nick Morgan, chief information officer for Sweetgreen
On cooking with fresh ingredients: “You’re dead to me if you buy pre-minced garlic. Don’t do that.” —Hugh Acheson, Top Chef judge, chef/owner of Empire State South, 5&10, and the National, and author of the James Beard Foundation Award Winning Cookbook A New Turn in the South.
On creating an experience: “I always think of managing a restaurant as like being an air traffic controller.” —Tyler Florence, chef and Food Network star
On America’s obsession with food: “Taste memories are one of the most positive memories in the world. Everyone has them and everyone wants more. We eat, we eat again.” —Chris Cosentino, Top Chef Masters Season 4 winner; chef/owner of Cockscomb in San Francisco
On wine and cheese: “There are three potential outcomes when pairing cheese and wine: 1. What I call Geneva, meaning it’s a neutral prospect. 2. What I call the Titanic. We all know what happened there. 3. What I call Nirvana. This is when you have a cheese and a wine together and it makes you want to sing; it creates something you haven’t had before.” —Laura Werlin, cheese expert and author