I received an invitation to attend a five-course media dinner for the Inaugural Viceroy Hotel Group Chef Exchange Program. A program where Viceroy Hotel Chefs do visitations to other Viceroy resorts to show off their signature dishes.
Entering Eight K, the main restaurant for The Viceroy Snowmass, I strolled past the 87ft-long bar illuminated by blue neon lights and a row of black glass chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. At the bar, people were enjoying happy hour. That is what I love about this town, no matter the evening, one can always join in on somebody else’s vacation, without having to fly anywhere to enjoy the perks. With this job, every day could be seen as a vacation, but family will always be my number one priority, unless of course The Viceroy sends me an invitation.
The room where the reception and dinner was to be held was empty. Could it be that I was the first one to arrive? When it comes to food at The Viceroy, I don’t mess around. As I perused the room, familiarizing myself with the names placed at each plate setting, it occurred to me that I might be missing out on the “reception” part of the dinner. This is why I don’t like to come too early to an event, unlike Dooce, a blogging pioneer, I have not yet arrived at a place where my husband can quit his job and work alongside me at Aspen Real Life, a job offer that he would be all too pleased to pass down. Without my Carhart wearing Contractor, I am often solo at these events. I have found that it is easier to walk into a party than to wait for the party to walk into you.
As it turns out, I did not miss out on the reception and as soon as the rest of the guests trickled in, we were served champagne glasses filled with bubbly, vodka and Lemoncello.
I worked the room, clinking glasses with as many guests as possible before dinner, a common goal of mine, enjoying conversations with Janet O’Grady, Editor in Chief of Aspen Magazine, Todd Hartley, “I’m With Stupid” columnist for the Aspen Times, and his wife, Cindy Hirschfeld, Managing Editor for Active Interest Media, as well as Viceroy Residence Owners, Developers and Plum TV Aspen Producers.
We were all eager to experience a tour of Italy, with wines and champagne paired with classic and modern dishes, all designed by the Hosted Executive Chef, Mirko Paderno, of Oliverio Restaurant at Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills (Oliverio was rated third, by the Zagat Guide, of 152 Italian restaurants in Beverly Hills).
Paderno honed his modern Italian cuisine while at the Cesare Ritz School in Merano, Italy, before working under renowned Chef Sergio Mei at the Four Seasons Hotel in Milan. After departing the Four Seasons, he took a position as the executive chef at Piero Selvaggio’s Primi in Los Angeles, before continuing on to other notable Los Angeles Italian eateries like Celstino Drago, Dolce, Cecconi’s, and All’ Angelo. From there, he embarked on his latest venture: developing and launching Oliverio inside Viceroy Hotel Group’s Avalon Hotel. Paderno is known for a style that focuses on flavor first, frequently featuring local and regional ingredients in menus that are a feast for the senses.
From Thursday, Feb. 28 through Sunday, March 3, Chef Paderno, a man with “swarthy good looks,” as introduced by Viceroy Snowmass General Manager, Hugh Templeman, will present a special wine-paring prix fixe meal for Eight K diners that will run concurrent with Chef Will Nolan’s regular menu. Nolan has been at The Viceroy Snowmass since the opening of the hotel and apparently likes things fast, clocking in at 77 miles per hour on his snowboard. Templeman joked around saying that if Nolan does it again, he’ll be fired.
Being a huge fan of Italy, cemented by a three week glorious honeymoon there during the rainy October off-season, I was all over a drink with Lemoncello in it, but as the evening progressed it quickly came to my attention that I had to reign it all in and graciously sip the fine wines and champagne being served such as; Joseph Perrier “Cuvee Royal,” the La Scolca “White label – Gavi di Gavi” and the Opus One, Rutherford. The sipping stopped when I gave into a full glass of 2010 “Shea Vineyard,” from Shea Wine Cellers in Willamette Valley, Oregon.
As I said, I am a mom first and I can never escape lines from Dr. Seuss books. This time Mr. Carp’s words from the book, “A Fish Out of Water,” swam around in my head, ”Never feed him a lot. Never more than a spot! Or something may happen. You never know what.”
With over 900 glasses being used for approximately 21 guests, and Italian dishes to please the most discerning palate, from Sushi to Braised Veal Osso Bucco served with gold leaf saffron risotto and roasted bone marrow, the evening began my re-conditioning for fine dining, I had fallen out of practice. Nothing that a taste of edible gold can’t fix. Like all the good things in life, the gold lasted a second on your tongue, dissolving before you could cash in on the experience.
I made sure to save room for the grand finale, a 2011 Moscato D’Asti served with soft-sweet gorgonzola cheese, ubriaco cheese, truffle goat cheese, walnuts, and fruit chutney, and then my tour of Italy ended, stored away warmly, and securely in my stomach filled to the brim with the finer things in life…and there it shall stay until my next visit to The Viceroy Snowmass.
Look for our review on a one-hour cooking class with Chef Paderno.