Get a taste of the nation’s fanciest food & wine festival, with Martha Stewart, top chefs

ASPEN, Colorado — Aperol spritzes are most definitely back on the menu, because if Martha Stewart says it, it must be so.

Speaking to hundreds of eager fans who paid nearly $2,000 per ticket at the world’s fanciest food festival this weekend, Stewart shared her favorite Aperol spritz recipe and took issue with a May 9 New York Times article calling it “not a good drink.”

Said Stewart, in a way that declared the matter closed: “I like it.” The audience erupted into applause as she took another sip of the sparkling orange cocktail that’s a favorite of Instagrammers everywhere.

John Havick of Colorado Springs, Colorado, pretends to drink out of a 27-liter bottle Stag's Leap Wine Cellars 2014 CASK 23 cabernet sauvignon, valued at $13,000, during the 2019 Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. (The bottle was empty by this time.) (Photo: Trevor Hughes/USA TODAY)

In between shout-outs for her ice-ball maker, her wine club and her most recent cookbook, Stewart headlined a sprawling cast of celebrity chefs, winemakers, distillers and celebrities who descended on this picturesque mountain town for the annual Food & Wine Classic.

After telling a series of stories that had the audience roaring with laughter, and accidentally advising guests to use a Cuisinart food processor instead of event-sponsor KitchenAid, Stewart wondered aloud if her first festival would be her last: “I hope they invite me back,” she said with a smile.

Bacon hangs ready for tasting during the 2019 Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.

 (Photo: Trevor Hughes/USA TODAY)

Other high-profile guests included “Top Chef” Season 16 hosts and contestants, including winner Kelsey Barnard Clark of the restaurant Eat KBC in Dothan, Alabama; and chefs from Ming Tsai to Rick Bayless to Andrew Zimmern.

Instagram-famous people were everywhere, eating sustainable seafood lunches with Zimmern, posing with a keg-size bottle of wine or sweating off their excesses with yoga classes. Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom were spotted several times, and invites to late-night parties with unlimited drinks and food were the currency of the weekend.

"Top Chef" Season 16 contestants Eric Adjepong, left, and Justin Sutherland pose for a photo atop Buttermilk Mountain during the 2019 Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. (Photo: Trevor Hughes/USA TODAY)

Capping off the extravagance was wine educator and author Mark Oldman, who hosted a pair of tastings in which participants each tried the equivalent of $14,000 in wine, had they bought the bottles themselves. Dubbed “Wines for Quadrillionaires,” Oldman drew inspiration from wines served aboard the Concorde and showed up in a custom-made pilot’s uniform, holding court with a champagne saber.

And while guests at Oldman’s tasting tried a variety of once-in-a-lifetime wines, it was his 300-glass bottle of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 2014 CASK 23 cabernet sauvignon (worth $13,000) that stole the show – and had guests posing for photos.

The Heritage Fire festival, also held annually the same weekend in nearby Snowmass, had chefs grilling meats, fish and veggies over open flames. The festival is separate from the Aspen events but draws many of the same guests.

Violinist Jessica Borth plays as the sun sets during a rooftop Venetian spritz party during the 2019 Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. (Photo: Trevor Hughes/USA TODAY)

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