After my first visit to the Vail/Beaver Creek area last August to cover the Beaver Creek Wine & Spirits Festival, I was thrilled to be invited by the fantastic folks at Vail Resorts and the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch to cover the 2011 Beaver Creek Master Chef Classic, presented by Bon Appetit Magazine. Often choosing sun over snow, it was certainly a marvelous new experience to venture to one of the highest-rated winter destinations in the U.S. to enjoy the some of the finest food and wine the area has to offer.
Though a bit harried by my late arrival on Thursday evening, I happily made my way to the weekend’s kickoff dinner at the beautiful Splendido at the Chateau. In the kitchen regularly manned by resident chef David Walford, I was greeted with a big smile and warm welcome from guest chef, and Daily Blender favorite, John Besh. A New Orleans native, Besh and his hardworking kitchen crew delivered a menu with Big Easy flare to guests who had gathered to support the beneficiary of the evening, the Bright Future Foundation. Tasty hors d’oeuvres, like mojito popcorn, foie gras fritters with huckleberry-bourbon jam, and Kusshi oysters with tabasco caviar and meyer lemon, went handily with the cocktail of the evening, a Martha Washington punch made with Zacapa rum.
As diners enjoyed jumbo Gulf shrimp, blue crab bisque, and slow cooked elk shoulder, items including a vacation in Lake Tahoe and a private tour of Bon Appetit‘s New York test kitchen were auctioned off to benefit the Bright Future Foundation, an Eagle County organization committed to assisting local residents who are victims of domestic violence or at risk of becoming victims. A more-than-worthy cause, guests happily opened their wallets while satiating their appetites during this wonderful event.
After a dessert of berries stewed in spiced wine with a white chocolate marscapone, I had a chance to talk with the chef about the recent opening of Lüke San Antonio as well as the ongoing recovery of the New Orleans community from last year’s tragic oil spill. As a follow-up to my talk with executive chef Steve McHugh last spring, you can check out my exclusive interview with Chef Besh in mid-March right here on Daily Blender.
Tomorrow, my coverage of Friday’s Snowshoe Excursion and Luncheon and the Master Chef Challenge!
*Photo credit: Jennifer Heigl / Daily Blender