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Earliest Aspen Food & Wine Classic sell-out in five years
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Earliest Aspen Food & Wine Classic sell-out in five years

The Grand Tasting in Wagner Park.
The Grand Tasting in Wagner Park.
For the earliest time in five years, the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen has sold out.

The swanky celebration is widely considered the nation's premier culinary festival and it is a perennial sell out.

But the so-called Great Recession took a bite out of early pass sales to the popular event. Recently passes haven't sold out until just weeks before the festival commenced.

This year passes, which start at $1,150, were accounted for by early April.

Before the economy tanked, the passes were selling out in February.

The three-day Food & Wine Classic in Aspen will take place June 14-16, showcasing more than 80 cooking demonstrations and wine seminars, panel discussions, tasting events throughout town and the infamous Grand Tasting Pavilion in Wagner Park. This is the 31st year of the festival, also known via the hit Bravo TV show "Top Chef."

To mark the earliest sell-out in five years, festival spokeswoman Lori Lefevre announced several "special events" on Monday that she said included a party to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Food & Wine Magazine's Best New Chefs, a Last Bite Dessert Party, and a Celebrity Chef 5K Charity Run. A limited number of tickets are now on sale for the Best New Chefs party and the Last Bite Dessert party by clicking here. Registration for the 5K Charity Run will begin later in April, she said.

"These added events will give some attendees more opportunities to get up close with the expert chefs, and to taste incredible food and wine," a press release from Lefevre reads.

The Best New Chefs Party, which has been held 24 times before, will take place on Saturday, June 15, at the Sundeck at the Top of Aspen Mountain and "will celebrate the visionary geniuses shaping the epicurean world." To honor the party's 25th anniversary, Best New Chefs from years' past — including John Besh, David Chang and more — will showcase their food alongside cocktails and wines. Tickets are $250.

The Last Bite Dessert Party, hosted by Gail Simmons and featuring desserts by celebrated pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini, will take place on Friday, June 14, at the Hotel Jerome. "The second annual late-night party is a celebration of sweet decadence with delectable treats, innovative cocktails, and late-night snacks," the press release said. The event will also incorporate local pastry chefs and restaurants. Tickets are $125.

The Celebrity Chef 5K Charity Run will also take place on Friday, June 14, and will benefit Food & Wine's Grow for Good initiative. Participants will have the opportunity to run alongside star chefs at 8,000 feet. Registration will go online later this month.
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