Pre-Shift Meeting: It's Go Time!
Summer is my favorite time of year in the Grand Valley. Produce is in abundance, and it’s the beginning of event season for most of us in the hospitality business. Event season is that time of year when we are busier than we’ve ever hoped to be (and likely a little stressed about how to make it all work), but the full days and ollaborative spirit of our community and industry make everything so much fun. Somehow it no longer feels like work.
Mid-June brings the largest food festival in our state, the OOD & WINE Classic in Aspe. Our restaurants are participating in four separate events over two days. From the Grand Tasting, which takes place inside a tent large enough to cove a few thousand people, to a party at a mountainside silver mine overlooking the town below, our team of six is tasked with providing food for roughly 3,000 guests.
This is our third consecutive year showcasing “Colorado-sourced Colorado cuisine.” Events like the F&W Classic are great exposure for both the restaurants and the Grand Valley. Our goal is to demonstrate to other participating chefs what is possible with our local resources.
I briefly wrote about the Colorado FIVE in the last issue. This group of chefs, almost exclusively from the Front Range, host events throughout the state, followed by a dinner at the legendary James Beard Foundation House in New York City. On July 15, I will be hosting the FIVE at an outdoor event in a peach orchard overlooking the Colorado River with the picturesque Mt. Garfield in full view.
The dinner will be a Colorado-sourced and -inspired five-course seated meal with two passed appetizers and drink pairings for each of the dishes. Each of the featured chefs from notable restaurants throughout the Front Range will use Colorado ingredients to recreate their own signature dishes. Our spirit professional will create cocktails representing both flavors and spirits native to our state, and our resident sommelier will pair the wine courses using only Colorado wines.
By using these local products, my hope is to steadily create new partnerships between Front Range restaurants and Western Slope farmers, ranchers, distillers, and winemakers. Hopefully, our economy can grow by exporting more products to other markets, and we will have the added benefit of further differentiating our collective regional cuisine.
By August, our community will be ramping up for our two largest food/wine-themed festivals of the year. The Palisade Peach Festival, a showcase of the amazing peaches grown throughout our valley, takes place August 16-19. Then, September 13-16 brings USA Today’ top-rated wine festival, the Colorado Mountain Winefest.
These events continue to be our community’s largest opportunities for new customer growth. They are successful in driving tourism to retail, restaurant, hotel, and other amenities throughout the valley.
So, I want to wish everyone the best of luck going into the 2018 event season. This is where we shine! People from all over the Southwest choose to spend their precious vacation time and dollars here, and we are their hosts! I hope all of us have a wonderful summer giving all it takes to do what we do: creating this destination we all call home.