In celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, four charities were announced Thursday as recipients of money that would have gone to a fireworks display had a fire ban not been in effect.
Aspen Chamber Resort Association President and CEO Debbie Braun announced the recipients during the chamber’s annual luncheon kicking off the Food & Wine Classic, which begins today in earnest.
ACRA, on behalf of Food & Wine magazine, gave $1,250 to local food bank Lift Up, as well as Wholesome Wave, a nonprofit whose programs improve the accessibility and affordability of healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables around the country; the Mario Batali Foundation aimed at empowering children; and the World Central Kitchen, a global organization committed to ending world hunger, led by chef José Andrés.
The fireworks display scheduled to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Food & Wine Classic was canceled earlier this month, due to ongoing drought conditions and attendant fire danger.
ACRA had pledged $10,000 to pay for the fireworks, as a gift to Food & Wine for being the sponsor of the event since 1986.
Christina Grdovic, vice president and publisher of Food & Wine magazine, accepted the charitable donations, saying the drought conditions are unfortunate but “we hope it does rain, on Tuesday, after we’re gone.”
Grdovic also thanked the Aspen community, its businesses and volunteers for making the weekend festival happen.
“I say it’s about Aspen,” she said. “Hands down, we couldn’t do it without you.”
Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland and Councilman Derek Johnson then presented Grdovic and the magazine with the key to the city. Johnson noted that he doesn’t know what lock the key fits to, since Aspen residents rarely lock their doors, other than his family — only to keep his children inside.
Ireland noted that the city government gave the original organizers of Food & Wine a $5,000 grant when the first festival was held in 1983. After reading a proclamation officially dedicating this week to Food & Wine, he said the city will forgive the grant and the $24,112 in interest. But he joked that it should be lent to “Spanish wine banks,” playing off European economic turmoil.
Wine journalist, sommelier and author Anthony Giglio spoke briefly about the wines from Spain that luncheon attendees consumed, and praised Spanish winemakers for knowing how to master the fermented fruit juice.
He said Spain remains his favorite country for wine production.
“It takes getting to know them and love them,” he said, noting that the Ontañón Reserva 2004, DOCa rioja served at the luncheon was recently released. “Rioja remains the Bordeaux of Spain. ... Spain goes to the trouble of aging it for you.”
Giglio said this weekend is his 16th classic; he experienced his first one in 1996 as an unpaid pourer in the Wines from Spain tent. His “crack team” consisted of Grdovic and Katrin Naelapaa, who is now the director of Wines from Spain.
He joked that he is still an unpaid pourer while his female counterparts have moved on.
Tony DiLucia who returned to the Hotel Jerome as general manager last year after a 15-year tenure that ended in 2007, was named by ACRA as the recipient of this year’s “Molly Campbell Service Award” to acknowledge his community stewardship.
The award is named in honor of Molly Campbell, the longtime Aspenite who committed herself to championing excellence and improving the community through her volunteer efforts. The award is presented annually to an Aspen resident that personifies Campbell’s “get-it-done” personality, her ability to enjoy life and her enduring contributions to the community through service and volunteerism.