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Classic Women

BY Amiee White Beazley | May 17, 2017 | Feature Features

When the white tents of the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen are raised in Wagner Park, summer has officially begun. For four days, an industrious and creative team of strategists, experts and visionaries bring the pages of Food & Wine to life. But there's more than just magic at work behind the scenes. Meet the women who make the F&W Classic click.

—Food & Wine—

Jennifer Albright Carney
VP of Event Marketing, Aspen Chamber Resort Association

While June sunshine might call for them, Jennifer Albright Carney knows better than to wear heels to the Food & Wine Classic. Instead, Carney comes prepared in tennis shoes, should there be a wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano that has not made it to a wine demonstration on time and she finds herself running from one end of Aspen to the other, cheese wheel in hand. For the last 20 years, along with Devin Padgett, Food & Wine special projects producer and owner of Basalt-based devINC., Carney has managed on-the-ground logistics—large and small—for the mammoth culinary event in Aspen. “The Classic has always been one of the premier culinary events across the country, and this year marks the 35th anniversary,” says Carney, who, prior to joining the chamber, worked for the Aspen Art Museum and The Ritz-Carlton, Aspen. “Every year when the Classic happens, it’s an amazing transition from planning to activation. When Thursday rolls around, and we are out doing the thing we’ve been planning for so many months, enjoying what you actually planned for, that’s really special.”

Photo by Shawn O’Connor

Jordan Salcito
Sommelier

Aspen has played a major role in Jordan Salcito’s life and career as a sommelier, entrepreneur and leader for women in the wine industry. Salcito was not only married in Aspen, but it was here that she determined wine would be her life’s calling after attending the 2006 La Paulée des Neiges, an intimate celebration of Burgundy wine held at The Little Nell. Her love of Aspen began as a child, when she visited Aspen with her family during summer vacation, but it was solidified in 2005 when she attended the Food & Wine Classic for the first time. “I remember hanging out in The Little Nell lobby and being blown away,” she says. “Everywhere you turned, a legend of the food and wine world was there—like Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich,” says Salcito, who stole a nap one evening beneath her linen jacket. “I had never slept less in my life.” Over her career, Salcito has worked the dining room of top restaurants from Daniel to Veritas and created her own wine brands, Bellus and Ramona (the latter is an artisanal wine spritz blended with grapefruit). Today she is the director of wine special projects for the Momofuku group, leading wine education and advising the wine team in developing their programs for David Chang’s restaurants in the U.S. Now the former F&W Classic attendee is one of its stars, returning for the third year as a presenter with two seminars: Green Wines & Ham and Around the World With Bubbles.

Photo by Daniel Krieger

Nilou Motamed
Editor-in-Chief,
Food & Wine

Last June, Nilou Motamed arrived in Aspen for her first Food & Wine Classic as Food & Wine’s new editor. The former editor-in-chief of Epicurious and features director at Travel & Leisure took her seat in the front row atop Aspen mountain at the Publisher’s Party alongside the event’s superstar food and wine talent, Jacques Pépin. The legendary French chef shook a bottle of Champagne, raised his sword and cleanly sliced off the top—sending a torrent of wine into Motamed’s lap. The F&W Classic is all about unscripted moments and providing a platform for diverse talent in the food and wine industry. “I have unbelievable pride to be a part of a female-led and female-run brand,” she says. “Women are very important in our industry—we are entrepreneurs, champions, makers and role models who are a fundamental driving force, motivated by a real sense of both passion and fearlessness.” That passion and fearlessness may also be responsible for Motamed’s inspired influence of the iconic Food & Wine brand, which she says sits smack-dab at the intersection of food, luxury and travel. “Joy is what we traffic in,” she says. “It’s all about fun and the happiness you can get at the table, surrounded by friends and family.” At this summer’s event, she’ll moderate a panel with the Food Network’s Anne Burrell and Curtis Stone, host of Fox’s My Kitchen Rules.

Photo by Sven Eselgroth/FOOD & WINE

Mauny Kaseburg
Culinary Producer

There was that year when Mauny Kaseburg was planning to allow a live octopus to swim in her condo bathtub just to realize a Japanese chef’s seminar vision. Fortunately for Kaseburg, the chef changed his menu at the last minute. For 30 years, Kaseburg has produced cooking demonstrations at the Food & Wine Classic, working behind the scenes with chefs from legends like Julia Child, Thomas Keller, Jacques Pépin, Barbara Tropp and Patricia Wells to today’s stars such as Hugh Acheson and Carla Hall. Bringing together a masterful and seamless food presentation in the mountains is not as straightforward a task as it might appear, even for a La Varenne-trained chef and wine marketing guru. “You have to truss everything up and fly things in. Over the years, things have gotten easier—and also more complex,” she says. “When we started, we communicated by fax and snail mail, and the retailers and the grocery and butchers in Aspen bent over backward for us. It was, and still is, a communitywide effort. But, I admit, Amazon has made my life a lot easier.”

Photo by Stanton Stephens | On location at the Hot Stove Society

Stephanie Izard
Chef and Author

Stephanie Izard is what you’d call a bona fide celebrity chef—with the street cred to back it up. Executive chef and owner of the acclaimed Chicago restaurant Girl & the Goat (as well as Little Goat Diner and Duck Duck Goat), Izard is also a James Beard Award winner, the first woman to win Bravo’s Top Chef (which, as winner, brought her to her first Food & Wine Classic nine years ago) and, in 2010, was named a Food & Wine best new chef. A year later, Izard published a cookbook, Girl in the Kitchen ($30, Chronicle Books), and she’s about to launch her own food and travel quarterly magazine this fall, called Goatfish. “Being a chef is not a physically demanding job, but you have to be a tough woman to be around these guys day in and day out,” says Izard, who began her career working with Jean-Georges Vongerichten at the Chicago outpost of Vong. “I don’t see the kitchen as a ‘man’s world’ anymore. I don’t see myself as a ‘female chef’—just a chef,” says Izard. “What matters is the food. If what’s on the plate is good, nothing else matters.” During the F&W Classic this summer, she’ll present a seminar called Best of Asian Streetfood.

Photo by Anthony Tahlier

Diella Allen
Event Marketing Director,
Food & Wine

If there is one woman the Food & Wine Classic could not function without, it would be Diella Allen. You will find Allen’s fingerprints on almost every facet of the F&W Classic weekend—from venues, parties and content to sponsors, chefs and sommeliers. “We have an amazing roster of chefs who contribute to the magazine,” says the French Culinary Institute graduate, who began with Food & Wine as an intern almost 15 years ago. After the F&W Classic wraps on Sunday, Allen returns to New York on Monday morning and begins planning for the following year, working hand-in-hand alongside the magazine’s editors with the goal of bringing the pages of the magazine to life. “We look at who’s going to be in the magazine, who’s doing something new, who has exciting new projects—and jump on it. By mixing up the talent and content, we develop cutting-edge topics to make the F&W Classic relevant to what’s happening right now.”

Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

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