Saturday, June 16, 2007

Gossip at Aspen

June 16

I invite you to read Ben Leventhal's coverage of what's going on here in Aspen. It's by no means comprehensive, but he's doing a good job of highlighting the things that might amuse consumers about the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. Ben's a good guy. You'd like him. If you want to be scandalized about irresponsible, scurrilous rumors in the restaurant industry, read someone else; Ben's rumors are more measured.
He was called out by Food & Wine editor Dana Cowin in this morning's panel for people in the restaurant trade. The panel was about working with national press. She asked him, basically, what's up with blogs and why don't we understand you? And he basically said, we're an open book, send me an e-mail and let's talk.
Yet Ben's presence at the 212 House last night -- the de facto Aspen Classic after-party -- caused some minor kerfuffles. As an important chef was regaling a circle of people about past acid trips (scandal! A chef over the age of 24 has done acid!), an important publicist whispered into his ear about, um, shutting up because of the presence of bloggers. Said chef actually looked at me with a bit of leariness until Ben was pointed out, even though, from what I understand, Ben had been more or less muzzled as a condition of being let in to the 212 House.
I saw nothing scandalous at 212 House. I did see Thomas Keller hanging out with what I think is his ex-business partner Laura Cunningham, but that's really sweet rather than scandalous. I saw Jean-Georges Vongerichten, which is slightly unusual, but not scandalous. I found myself spending time with some of the United States' greatest chefs and beverage specialists, and with some of the high-end food scene's coolest people -- an agglomeration so cool that I didn't want to leave at 2:30 but instead drank more water, until I finally did leave at 3. But if anything was going on that would have made it on to Page 6, I either missed it or I'm not telling you.

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