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Gary Plumley and the Kevans are the Champagne of Aspen’s Food and Wine Classic

22 Gary Plumley and Ruth and Bob Kevan are the Champagne of Aspen’s Food and Wine Classic

Long before I served Champagne at my first Aspen Classic there was a Classic.

As Aspen’s Gary Plumley, co-founder with Ruth and Bob Kevan of Snowmass, tells it, “We were looking for a ‘shoulder season’, one to shoulder Aspen’s business from the skiing season to the skiing season.” He met with mayor of Snowmass and social activist, Bob Kevan and his enterprising wife, Ruth, in their home in Snowmass. The first Classics were about to be born: two classics; one in Aspen and one in Snowmass. Both were aided by the two Chambers of Commerce and the first years grew into such a success that soon the founders were in debt and in need of help keeping up with the growth. Gary and Ruth and Bob had hoped, as a non-profit, to give the proceeds to the Deaf Camp for children and the Aspen Music festival. Instead the two Chambers of Commerce had to bail them out and purchase the festival. Then the Chambers found a partner in American Express Publishing, which publishes”Food and Wine” magazine, and the rest falls into thirty years of historic success of American gastronomy, and Gary’s ‘shoulder season’ in Aspen was taking off like a rocket. Or shall I say it: like a Champagne cork? POW!

The first years I participated, first with Veuve Clicquot Champagne and then John Scharffenberger’s Mendocino Sparkling wines, witnessed such rapid growth that Gary Plumley’s Of Grapes and Grain wine shop’s back room was burgeoning with cases sent by distributors.

Next Of Grapes and Grain’s parking lot had to be fenced off with a night patrol keeping all the cases safe for the Food and Wine Classic tastings in the tents in the center of town. It was great fun like a hockey scrimmage all the coming and going and popping of corks and shouting to friends not seen since the last year’s Classic. Yes indeed a real Classic was growing. And Food and Wine was partnering with style with the Aspen community.

When Julia Child gave her support and entered the scene, the Young Chefs of America competition was born with Julia as the Queen of those kitchens. The Young Chefs were all thrilled meeting Julia. I have those annual receptions pictures in my mind: Julia surrounded like the rose she was by all those white toques and jackets of the Young Chefs.

The photos below are from my annual picnic given for Julia at the Jerome Hotel at the end of the Food and Wine Classic. I will describe the participants in the photos and the picnic in detail in my next book, “Julia’s Last Letter.”

So I name Gary Plumley a true Champagne person, and the Aspen Food and Wine Classic he spearheaded into existence for Aspen’s ‘shoulder season’ a veritable profusion of Champagne’s gas of life CO2, stimulating and giving life to Gastronomy and to Aspen and to all who visit and participate in this elegant and wonderful event.

Meanwhile Julius Caesar is asking for his own blog, and so I will begin Julius’s blog tomorrow.

For today, Nunc bibendum est, and sign up to go to Aspen’s shoulder season – The Food and Wine Classic.

Madeleine, Madam Champagne


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