A look at the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen

It’s hard to argue against the beauty of Aspen, CO. The weather makes for quite the refuge from summers in Texas, but that’s not the only draw Aspen has in the summer. Every year, food and beverage professionals gather on the lawns of Aspen for the FOOD & WINE Classic to celebrate our industry and meet other creatives.

Grand Tasting tents in Aspen

Delysia Chocolatier looks forward to this event throughout the year in excitement at meeting new people and sharing what we do and love. This year at The Classic, we brought a bit of Southern flair to the Grand Tasting by showcasing Southern inspired chocolates. Our theme was inspired by customer favorites and a desire for something unique in the chocolates we would exhibit. Chocolate is a wonderful canvas to display new and inventive flavors and we wanted to bring that to the guests in Aspen.

The FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen is an enriching experience every year and this year proved no different. Along with the excitement and encouragement that comes from this incredible festival, long hours and work go into making it seamless to our guests.

Kitchen Preparation with truffles

Our schedule this year included more than ever before. Not only were we invited to participate in the Grand Tasting for a third year that features hundreds of exhibitors, but we were also invited to be a part of numerous private events and parties that took place in Aspen throughout the weekend. All of the success goes back to months of preparation. Besides the countless emails and press releases sent and received, we also had product to create. Constant brainstorming led us to create twelve truffle flavors for the festival that included fried chicken (a customer favorite), collard greens, banana pudding, and Coke and peanuts to name a few, along with a crawfish boil bark with a ghost pepper kick. Over ten thousand truffles were made in the weeks leading up to the festival. With preparations completed, we loaded our trailer and headed to Colorado.

Our work wasn’t done once we made it to Aspen. Meetings with event planners, gift box deliveries, and unpacking our trailer at The Classic grounds made up any free time we may have otherwise had. But it was worth it. Thursday night began our scheduled events with a kick-off party hosted by Aspen Magazine. The Asian theme gave us a perfect opportunity to show the guests the range in which we create chocolates. Our truffle flavors for the night included Wasabi raspberry, Spiced orange, Gochujang, Seaweed salad, and Red bean. While we served our truffles for Aspen Magazine’s guests, I made a trip to St. Regis for the welcome reception and another to deliver truffles for Boisset Collection’s party. Aspen had over twenty parties being hosted that evening for The Classic. We successfully concluded our first private party in Aspen and made our way to bed before the beginning of the Grand Tastings on Friday.

Spiced Orange Truffle at Aspen Magazine's Party

Early on Friday morning we loaded our remaining materials into the Grand Tasting tents and began the first session of the weekend. Seeing guests from the parties the night before delighted us as they tried our Southern inspired flavors. The day went by quickly while we had the chance to meet Zac Brown and visit with a friend and chef, Michael Gulotta. Directly following the Grand Tasting, we set-up for our party that evening at Nello Alpine, a club a part of the hotel Little Nell, hosted by Patron Tequila for their Summer Switch Up Party. The guests danced to an incredible DJ and violinist and sampled Delysia’s chocolates all of which were infused with Patron Tequila- Orange Blossom, Mango Habanero, Spicy Maple Pecan, Jalapeno Tequila, and Key Lime Pie.

Nicole Patel speaks with eager guests at the Grand Tasting

Patron infused chocolate truffles at Patron's Summer Switch Up Party

Saturday was one of the longest days with two full sessions at the Grand Tasting during morning and evening, while we also served at Patron Tequila’s High End Party in the Hyatt Grand Aspen. A few guests from Patron’s party the night before were in attendance and we offered them samples of our truffles. We had created Cigar Salted Caramel and Honey Apricot for the tequilas and Black Current and Cherry Espresso to be paired with the wines from DAOU. Smaller events like these with under fifty guests, really gave us the opportunity to connect with future clients and guests and share what we are passionate about and also hear what brings them to the festival. The intimate environment is quite the change from the whirlwind of the Grand Tasting that holds thousands of guests. During the Grand Tastings we met with Andrew Zimmern who has been a fan of our Cricket chocolate bark for years and Gail Simmons who always has the kindest words of encouragement to share with us. Fellow Texan and chef, Tim Love, also said hello before the tastings ended. In the evening, we relaxed at home while grilling steaks. We brought along our Ghost pepper chocolate bark for the occasion to melt over our filets. Simply addicting.

Cigar Salted Caramel Truffles at Patron's High End Party

Nicole Patel and Andrew Zimmern with Crawfish Boil Bark

Nicole Patel and Gail Simmons at the Grand Tasting

Nicole Patel and Tim Love at the Grand Tasting

Sunday morning would be our last full day at The Classic. A late breakfast at one of our favorite spots, Big Hoss Grill in Snowmass, and we made one final excursion to the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen. The shortened session made the fast weekend go by even quicker as we said our goodbyes to fellow exhibitors and packed our belongings. On our way to purchase a tshirt (the only way to make it official right?), we met Jacques Pepin while having lunch with his family and friends. OK, officially a great weekend. A successful weekend with incredible food and wine, amazing exhibitors, and newly made contacts and friends was celebrated over Italian food and champagne.

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We are incredibly thankful to our loyal customers and clients for your support and encouragement that allows us to share our passion in new ways and with new people. Our time in Aspen is always one to remember. We are enthusiastic about where these opportunities will take us this year and hope you will join us.

You can enjoy our Southern flavors by purchasing the Southern chocolate truffle collection online or in our Culinary Center. Delysia Chocolatier can be a part of any occasion and offer our services at your next event so that your guests may have a taste of indulgence.

Until next year Aspen,

Signature - Nicole Patel


Owner and chocolatier Nicole Patel at the Food & Wine Grand Tasting

Nicole Patel

Nicole Patel is the proprietor of and chocolatier for Delysia Chocolatier. In 2006 while pregnant with her first son, Nicole made a batch of chocolate truffles as holiday gifts. To the delight of friends and family, she continued to create chocolates as a way to relieve stress from her corporate engineering job. In 2008, a chance trip to Becker Vineyards led to Nicole being the first in Texas to make truffles using local wines. Within five years, what started as a hobby turned Delysia into one of the Top Ten Chocolatiers in the Americas, as selected by the International Chocolate Salon.