Food and wine festival April 9-12 |

Food and wine festival April 9-12

VAIL – As warmer weather continues to wrap its arms around the Vail Valley, it can only mean one thing – that the valley’s annual food and wine rite of spring is just around the corner, with the 2003 Taste of Vail on tap April 9-12.

An elegant tapestry of fine wine, spirits and dining, the 13th annual Taste of Vail will be highlighted by 56 of the top wineries from around the globe, 32 of the Vail Valley’s world-class restaurants and two world-renowned guest chefs to provide a four-day sensory extravaganza.

Tickets for the 2003 Taste of Vail are currently available, with full event passes priced at $350, and individual tickets from $35 to $150. The full event pass includes all seminars, the Apres Ski Tasting, Mountaintop Picnic and the Grand Tasting, auction and dance. Tickets may be ordered online at or by calling (970) 926-5665.

Headlining the culinary aspect of this year’s Taste of Vail will be Guest Chefs Shawn McClain of Spring Restaurant in Chicago and Francois Payard of Payard Patisserie and Bistro in New York City. In addition to their offerings at the Grand Tasting, McClain and Payard will team up for the Wine and Food Pairing Luncheon Saturday, April 12, at Terra Bistro Restaurant, hosted by Chef Kevin Nelson. Tickets for this luncheon are priced at $75.

McClain continues to garner recognition and accolades for his culinary style, which incorporates Asian influences, while showcasing his gift for preparing seafood. The prestigious James Beard Foundation nominated Spring as “Best New Restaurant” in 2001.

Payard, a third-generation French pastry chef, honed his skills working with his parents and grandparents at Au Nid des Friandises on the French Riviera. He moved to New York in 1990 and was named “Pastry Chef of the Year” by the James Beard Foundation in 1995 and garnering the same honor from Bon Appetit in 1998.

A quartet of local chefs will also be in the spotlight Wednesday evening, April 9, as Taste of Vail kicks off with a new addition, the Vail Valley Chefs Showcase Dinner at the Game Creek Restaurant on Vail Mountain. Hosted by Chef Chris Wing of Game Creek, the evening’s offerings will also include creations by Chef David Sanchez of Allie’s Cabin, Chef Mike Irwin of Juniper Restaurant and a grand dessert, courtesy of Shawn Smith of Mountain Flour. Tickets for the Vail Valley Chefs Showcase Dinner are priced at $110.

Other new Taste of Vail elements include a Champagne and Caviar Lunch Thursday, April 10, at Larkspur Restaurant, hosted by Chef Thomas Salamunovich and presented by Northeast Seafood. Participants will have the opportunity to sip fine champagnes and sample an eclectic assortment of caviars. Tickets for the Champagne and Caviar Lunch are priced at $68.

While new aspects dot the schedule, the 2003 Taste of Vail will once again feature the traditional favorites, including the Apres Ski Tasting, Thursday, April 10, at the Lodge at Vail; the Mountaintop Picnic, Friday, April 11, at the top of Vail Mountain; and the Grand Tasting, auction and dance on Saturday, April 12, at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort and Spa. The Vail Marriott Mountain Resort and Spa will also serve as the official hotel of the 2003 Taste of Vail. Registration and seminars will take place at the hotel.

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