Some 5,000 people, including more than 500 restaurant operators, converged on Aspen, Colo., for the 32nd annual Food & Wine Classic last week. This grandfather of food and beverage festivals featured cooking demonstrations, wine classes and a wide variety of parties celebrating such treasures as the wines of Spain, Irish culture, cured pork and tequila.
For restaurateurs, American Express held its 25th annual Restaurant Trade Program, which started with a conversation moderated by TV food personality Andrew Zimmern between veteran restaurateurs Michael Chiarello, Barbara Lynch, Jonathan Waxman and Danny Meyer about handling the vicissitudes of the foodservice business.
Later, Chicago-based television food reporter Steve Dolinsky discussed cocktails with Charles Joly of Aviary in Chicago, Josh Harris of Trick Dog in San Francisco and Kimberly Patton-Bragg, a New Orleans-based beverage consultant.
Dolinsky later discussed how to engender customer loyalty with chefs Tom Colicchio, Stephanie Izard and Sean Brock, as well as Mitzi Gaskins, vice president and global brand manager for JW Marriott hotels.
“It really does come down to service and culture,” Gaskins said, emphasizing that staff members need to be recognized for excellence and empowered to give customers what they need.
The trade program concluded with a Southern luncheon prepared by chefs Mike Lata, Hugh Acheson and Sean Brock.
All photos by Galdones Photography/Food & Wine unless otherwise noted.