Submitted by Mike Jahn, 3/4/2013.
When I got the invitation, I jumped at the chance to attend a cooking class with a visiting renowned Italian chef at the Viceroy Snowmass Eight K Restaurant. You see, living in Aspen–home to the Food & Wine Classic for 30 years–provides some very interesting culinary opportunities. But, those experiences are usually reserved for the big shots in the hospitality industry. So, I was both nervous and excited to participate in this inaugural event for the Viceroy Hotel Group’s Chef Exchange Program (click on link for story on Media Dinner).
This assignment had me picturing a large kitchen, set up with workstations for all the participants, ready to dig in and start slicing and dicing, mixing and prepping. Instead, it was set up in the private dining room, and was more of a demonstration with visiting Chef Paderno, supported by Eight K Executive Chef, Will Nolan and his staff. So, all I had to do was sit back, watch, learn, taste and enjoy. Even better! Oh, and the part I didn’t really think about at all: the wonderful wines that would be paired with these tasty dishes.
The midday timing of the event, on a bright sunny Saturday, gave it a nice casual feel, and I felt right at home as I knew a few of the other local writers in the room, and struck up a conversation with a recurring visitor. Everyone seemed to enjoy the beautiful setting, with the aspen tree-lined glass walls, and beautiful solid wood laminate tables bedecked with full wine glasses and flavorful dishes.
The food started with a delicious Potato Gnocchi, which was light and airy and served with greens and a simple milanese sauce. This was paired with an Italian white wine, La Scolca Gavi di Gavi. Next up was the fresh handmade pasta, first rolled out and cut into spaghetti with the chitarra (which looks somewhat like a musical string instrument, and was even strummed as such by the chef!), and served with a fresh pesto sauce. A red Val di Suga Rosso di Montalcino was served with the spaghetti. Finally, we were treated to a Veal Agnolotti, which used the fresh rolled pasta stuffed with Osso Buco and formed into a ravioli, then twisted into the Agnolotti Al Plin shape; which was paired with Once Wines’ “Sorcerer,” a California blend of Cabernet, Grenache, and Syrah.
It really was a treat, and Chef Mirko Paderno was truly engaging, regaling us with stories of his mother’s influence on his cooking, growing up in Milan, Italy. He also told us about the atmosphere at his current restaurant, Oliverio at the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills (a historic spot, formerly known as the Beverly Carlton). With its poolside location, he said you’ll see power lunches in full force, while swimmers enjoy the water and the scene. He is planning an anniversary event to celebrate their fourth year, which will include serving up his dishes family style. And, who knows, it may even feature his mother as a guest chef!
Mike Jahn is the Founder and Principal Consultant for Clear Path Technical Solutions , a local Aspen IT Consulting and computer support company. He serves on the boards for the Aspen Young Professionals Association (AYPA), Aspen Community Church, and the Aspen Buffs alumni group for the CU Alumni Association in Aspen. He’s also a volunteer coach for Aspen Junior Hockey, and passionately supports local businesses, organizations & events. You can find Mike’s social media profile at http://about.me/mike_jahn.