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‘Summer camp for foodies’ opens at 30th annual Food & Wine Classic

By Dave Buchanan

ASPEN – The 30th annual Food and Wine Classic in Aspen opened this morning and like all notable anniversaries this one has been long in the planning.

A special concert by Elvis Costello, a 5k charity run with super-chef Bobby Flay and changes in the lineup of chefs has breathed new life into this long-time high-gloss favorite, the one Dana Cowin, editor-in-chief of Food and Wine magazine, calls “summer camp for foodies.”

It’s also notable that this is the first year since 2008 the Classic has sold out in advance. It may the economy really is better but Christina Grdovic, vice president and publisher of Food & Wine, said this being the 30th anniversary also attracted the crowd.

“The fact that this is a special year might have made people say, ‘this is one I don’t want to miss,’” Grdovic told Kelly Hayes of the Aspen Times.

Among the many memories since the International Wine Classic began in 1983 (the name changed in 1986 when it was taken over by Food & Wine Magazine) include appearances by the late Julia Child, who made her debut in Aspen in 1990, the first in a continuing string of sell-outs in 1997 and simply the immense growth in the awareness of eating and drinking well.

“It was one of the first places you could see chefs perform,” said Cowin in story by Stewart Oksenhorn. “Ten years before The Food Network came along, the Classic was essentially doing food shows with food personalities.”

Among the personalities returning this year is author Mark Oldman, whose “Oldman’s Guide to Outsmarting Wine: 108 Ingenious Shortcuts to Navigate the World of Wine with Confidence and Style” is a great tool for wine drinkers wanting to increase their knowledge of things grape.

Oldman’s seminar Saturday morning featured sparkling wines from regions other than Champagne. He wowed the audience with his demonstration of “sabering” a bottle of sparkling wine and then called to the audience for volunteers to try it themselves.

“It’s really not difficult, you could teach a child to do it,” he reassured the watchers although he did provide safety goggles for the cautious but eager volunteers. “But I wouldn’t recommend that unless you want to raise your kid right, right from the start.”

There a several thousand “kids” here this weekend, all eager to learn and eager to have something to take back home, even if it’s the most massive hangover from drinking wine at Aspen’s rarified 7,900-feet elevation.

Call it the schooling part of summer camp.

The 30th annual Food & Wine Classic runs through Sunday.

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