This is part of Restaurant Hospitality’s special coverage of the 2012 Food & Wine Classic held in Aspen, Colo., June 15-17.
Here I am in Aspen, along with a few hundred of my best food-and-wine-loving friends, at Aspen Tuscan Estate, which is really the home of a very wealthy someone who has invited José Andrés and his Spanish winery pals to stage a magnificent barbecue on a nearly perfect day. This setting, which includes a panoramic view of sun-splashed Aspen Valley, has drawn all the culinary stars, but this night belongs to José, who welcomes all with open arms and a kiss on each cheek.
If there was ever a time to show off, this is it, but that’s not what’s happening here on this mind-blowing estate valued, according to whispers, at $24 million. No, there is no arrogance on the face of Andrés, only the pure joy of someone who loves to feed people and share their company. At one point, on the back lawn where several of José’s people are cooking furiously over live fire, he stops the party to lead a round of applause for all the hard work that has led to this Spanish feast in the mountains. The cooks smile and so does everyone else, knowing full well that the hospitality industry is fueled not by culinary stars, but by the people who punch clocks at restaurants every day.
Right now, there are few chefs in America who are as highly regarded as José. He doesn’t need a big venue like this to show off his big talent and big heart. But the looks on the face of everyone who attended said it all: “Bravo, señor Andrés!”