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Party crashing in Aspen

NRN’s senior food editor, Bret Thorn, shares tales of his celebrity chef groupie status

This is part of NRN's special coverage of the 2012 Food & Wine Classic held in Aspen, Colo., June 15-17. Follow all of our coverage at NRN's 'Aspen Food & Wine Classic' section.

I accidentally crashed a really nice party yesterday.

I’m in Aspen for the Food & Wine Classic, a festival with which I have a love-hate relationship. It's fun because I get to hang out with a bunch of really great industry people and go to a lot of different parties with delicious food and terrific alcohol.

But it’s also really annoying. That's because food in the United States has been transformed from a necessity of life, and a subject of some interest to a certain group of connoisseurs, to a national obsession and sometimes kind of a gross fetish, the Food & Wine Classic has an added, lurid component of celebrity chef groupies, and they kind of wear me out.

But yesterday, I guess I kind of was a celebrity chef groupie.

I was invited to a Ferrer Wine Estates party at Jimmy’s, a restaurant and bar in Aspen that is the host of many parties during the Classic.

I wandered in and New York restaurateur Drew Nieporent, head of the Myriad Restaurant Group and always a strong presence at the Food & Wine Classic, greeted me warmly from his spot on the restaurant’s balcony.

I got a drink — a nice gin-based thing with Cava and some sort of bitter Italian liqueur — and joined Drew on the balcony, where he was hanging out with Bobby Flay, Flay’s wife Stephanie March (you might know her as the stunningly beautiful assistant district attorney Alexandra Cabot from the Law & Order franchise), his business partner Lawrence Kretchmer, Nilou Motamed of Travel & Leisure (and now quite a well-established TV personality), her husband Peter Lindberg (a very well respected journalist in his own right) and others.

Drew grabbed me and had me pose for a picture with the group, and then I took a picture of him and everyone else.

I hadn’t met Stephanie, so I introduced myself and she graciously pretended to know who I was and made small talk about food. I was catching up with everyone else, when Jimmy, the owner of Jimmy’s, introduced himself, shook my hand, and just as nicely as could be ushered me off of the balcony and back into his restaurant telling me that Lawrence’s wife (presumably Lawrence Kretchmer’s, but I guess I can’t say for sure) had organized that balcony as a private, intimate gathering.


But hey, I got a nice picture out of it, which Drew was nice enough to e-mail to me this morning. And I managed to soldier on to the Food & Wine Classic’s opening reception at the Ritz-Carlton and then to the annual Wines from Spain party with my ego reasonably intact.

Also, I totally met Stephanie March!

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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