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Hands-on seminars popular at Food & Wine Classic

By Dave Buchanan

ASPEN – Midway in his seminar on “Butchery for Beginners” at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Chef John Besh looked up from his carving up of a Colorado lamb at the Food & Wine Classic cooking tent and peered into the audience.

“Are there any vegetarians in here?” to a round of laughter. Surprisingly, there was one, and Besh (pictured at right) knew her. “Well, in case you decide to eat meat, here’s how to get it,” said the New Orleans-based Besh.Chef John Besh

This year's Food & Wine Classic added some hands-on seminars including Besh’s “Butchery for Beginners” and “Knife Skills 101,” indicative of the Classic’s efforts to keep the event fresh and consumer friendly.

“People don’t want to just watch and listen, they really want to know how to make it at home,” said Christina Grdovic, publisher of Food & Wine Magazine. “It’s part of the greater trend of understanding where our food comes from.”

More in-the-kitchen know-how, blended with equal parts of stand-up comedy, was imparted by many of the best-known names in the food prep business, including Besh, Emeril Lagasse, Jacque and fusion-cooking star Ming Tsai, who told those watching his Saturday seminar on Asian barbecue, "When you cut an onion, do it at a 45-degree angle so you don't cut your fingertips off — that would be bad, unless you're a criminal."

Along with all the gala over the weekend, there also is talk of the High Park Fire near Fort Collins.

Ben Parsons, owner and winemaker at the Infinite Monkey Theorem winery in Denver, said he is donating the proceeds from his ever-so-popular Smuggler Mine party to local firefighters.

"In response to the High Park wildfire near Fort Collins, Colo., The Infinite Monkey Theorem (IMT) is turning tonight’s highly anticipated S’Wine at the Mine party at the Food & Wine Classic into a benefit for the Aspen Volunteer Fire Department, who is sending a team to battle the blaze," Parsons said in a news release.

"The Denver-based urban winery IMT – as well as event co-sponsors The National Pork Board, Tender Belly, Novelis, Ball Corporation, Basta and Masterpiece Delicatessen – have all agreed to donate funds, and guests will also be asked to contribute donations at the door.

“We’re very fortunate to be able to celebrate Food & Wine weekend in Aspen with a party of this magnitude,”Parsons said. "And we’re excited that we can also use our event to help make a difference for this devastating natural disaster.”

Late reports say the High Park fire has burned about 85 square miles, making it the third-largest in recorded Colorado history.

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