Martha Stewart

While new to the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Martha Stewart is no stranger to our little mountain town.

“I love Aspen. It’s a very unique and beautiful environment,” Stewart said Thursday. “I’ve had many, many friends there over there years and (have) visited many times.”

The iconic businesswoman, whose name is synonymous with achieving perfection in the kitchen and home, kicks off the three-day festival with a seminar on summer entertaining at 10 a.m. today.

Like many locals and visitors alike, picking a favorite season is tough for Stewart, as she reminisces with equal parts enthusiasm on skiing at Aspen Mountain as well as partaking in the Teddy Forstmann conferences during the summer.

“They’re both just so gorgeous,” Stewart said of summer and winter. “I think Aspen is beautiful all times of the year.”

Although Stewart left her skis at home this time around — she prefers cross-country to downhill these days after a ski injury on Aspen Mountain several years ago — the lifestyle maven is bringing to the classic her more than three decades of experience, as well as her latest book, “Grilling.”

"Having Martha Stewart here is such a thrill. Her lifestyle tricks and tips are genius, and her recipes are always spot on. She is an icon and having her here is an honor,” said Food & Wine executive director of event marketing Diella Allen. “You can sense the excitement from not only the media and the attendees, but the whole Food & Wine team.”

While preparing to leave for Aspen on Thursday, Stewart spoke via phone from her home in New York with Time Out editor Erica Robbie.

Below are highlights of their conversation, whereby they discussed grilling, summer plans and Stewart’s legendary friendship with Snoop Dogg.

ER: What are you looking forward to most this weekend in Aspen?

MS: I’ve been an active participant at the Miami Food & Wine (Classic) for many years, so I’m anxious to see how it differs in Aspen.

ER: What can you tell me about your seminar, “Summer entertaining with Martha”?

MS: Oh my gosh, well we have a new book, “Grilling,” and we’re going to be demo-ing some of the ideas that you can find in “Grilling,” talking about outdoor entertaining, of course — in particular, the way that I like to do it — and just helping to encourage people that the outdoors is a fine place to gather your friends and family and have fun.

ER: How exactly do you “like to do (outdoor entertaining)”?

MS: I like al fresco dining, I like setting and dressing tables, generally, long tables … I don’t care how many people, I like (having) a lot of people, and I have several different kinds of grills that we use, one in particular for paella in a giant open pan over a wood fire. I have covered grills for quicker cooking and smoking and I just got a brand new (searing) grill that I’ll describe (at Food & Wine), it’s so fabulous … Cooking outdoors can be more interesting than just plopping a hamburger or a hot dog on the grill.

ER: What are the origins of your #MarthaAndSnoop collaboration?

MS: Well, we were friends on my show for a few years, he came on my show a couple of times, and all the rappers know I like rap music … I think I was the first person to put rappers on a daytime show, and that’s my reputation any way. Then he and I participated in the Justin Bieber Comedy Central roast, where we spent a whole day together and had a good time. As a result, somebody saw that roast and thought, ‘Boy, they’d make an interesting team,’ and then, indeed, we’re in our third season of Martha and Snoop, and it’s very popular and a happy program.

ER: What are some of your plans this summer?

MS: I have a house in Maine, which reminds me a little bit of the mountainous regions of Colorado … In addition to (the) beautiful mountains, we have a view of the ocean, which is one of my favorite places on earth. We spend a lot of time in August up there, sailing and hiking and enjoying the outdoors. I’m also going to the Philippines for a business trip, which I’m really looking forward to, having never been there. I like to go (to places) where I haven’t been.

ER: Is there anything you would like to add as it pertains to the Food & Wine Classic, Aspen or summer entertaining?

MS: Nothing other than I’m so happy there’s so many people who are so deeply interested in the combination of good food with good wine and good spirits. I’m so happy that people are interested in good recipes. Cookbooks have never been more popular than they are now. There are so many great cookbooks; people are still utilizing cookbooks, buying cookbooks, so that makes me happy because so much (of that) has gone away.

Erica Robbie is the arts and entertainment editor for the Aspen Daily News. She can be reached at erica@aspendailynews.com or on Twitter @ericarobbie.