Steamboat Food and Wine festival still offers intimate dinners, tastings amid pandemic
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When Nicole Jarman created the Steamboat Food and Wine Festival, she relished the intimacy of it, the ability to put small groups of people in a room and foster one-on-one conversations between guests and the chefs.
Despite the pandemic slightly altering the capacity and format of the festival, it will still go on and retain that special feel of having a dinner party with friends.
“For our chefs, wineries and stakeholders, smaller is not necessarily bad,” Jarman said. “For the chefs to cook for 40 people instead of 60 is a nice number for them. They’re still in front of a really great crowd and have the opportunity to chat and build those relationships more.”
The only major difference between the inaugural Steamboat Food and Wine Festival last year, and this year, is the number of tickets available. The seminars and dinners, many of which are already sold out, will be smaller to allow people to space out in the venues, which vary in size.
The grand tasting in Gondola Square won’t be as massive as it usually is. Instead, it will be split into two times on Oct. 3 — 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. — each with 175 people in attendance.
The event won’t feature crowds and snakes of people navigating booths of colorful appetizers and aromatic wines. Every attendee will have an assigned seat where they can enjoy their wine and food mask free. To get the food, people must wear masks and move in a one-way direction through the booths. Trays will be provided to help bring glasses and plates back to the table. It’ll function similarly to restaurants and the Main Street Steamboat Springs Farmers Market.
“I actually think it’s a way better experience,” Jarman said. “Juggling food and wine glasses and walking around is kind of annoying. I actually think the experience will be better. It just means a little bit more logistics for us.”
The Sunday brunch will work in a similar fashion. There won’t be community dining but rather servers to fill the plates of the guests.
The chef’s dinners are already sold out, but there are wait lists for everything. People backing out isn’t incredibly likely, but Jarman is holding out hope that Routt County or the state could expand the gathering limits, which would then allow those on the waitlist to participate.
Steamboat Food & Wine has partnered with Alpine Bank to work on “Food with Integrity.” It’s a commitment to support and partner with local farmers, growers and producers to supply the community with locally grown and sourced foods.
More information can be found at steamboatfoodandwine.com/food-with-integrity.
Seminars are also selling out fasts, but there are spots remaining in a few, such as “The Art of Ramen,” hosted by Chef Eric Gordan of Joki in Steamboat and a whiskey tasting and distillery tour at Steamboat Whiskey Co. Tickets can be purchased at steamboatfoodandwine.com/tickets.
Soldout seminars include a Spanish wine tasting and “Mastering the Cool Art of the Frozen Cocktail” with mixologist Mark Stanford of Truffle Pig.
Jarman said there are two more seminars being added that have her particularly excited. A “Wine 101” class with Erik Segelbaum, who is the 2020 Wine Enthusiast 40 under 40 Global Tastemaker and Food & Wine Magazine 2019 Sommelier of the Year, will soon be added to the schedule. The other will allow guests to learn more about olive oil and taste the difference in variations.
“We’re actually ordering white wine glasses, so people can taste olive oil out of white wine glasses,” she said. “Good olive oil is so good.”
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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Witches and goblins and ghosts, oh my!