Beaver Creek Draws Epicurean Skiers

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When the second annual Beaver Creek International Culinary Classic kicks off this Friday, February 11, it heralds more than just a fresh season of food festivals. It's a telling sign that fine dining has become an integral part of the skiing experience.

Not simply a vehicle to draw crowds during the off-season like many food festivals, the Culinary Classic takes place during Beaver Creek's peak ski season. Passing skiers can even sample slopeside tastings.

The stellar restaurant scene in resorts like Beaver Creek, Aspen, and Stowe is a good indicator that skiers have become increasingly interested in mountain dining. Hopefully, as at Beaver Creek, more such festivals will be available to skiers during the winter season.

Beaver Creek Culinary Classic is also a standout because it is on the cutting edge of the food world, with star chefs and weighty gastronomic agendas

This year's festival is headlined by such chefs as Jean Alberti of San Francisco's Kokkari Estiatorio and David Burke of New York's Park Avenue Cafe. Co-sponsored by Bon Appetit magazine, there will be intimate, hands-on cooking classes in the showcase kitchens of Beaver Creek's private homes, as well as demonstrations at the Vilar Center for the Arts. Beaver Creek's hometown chefs, including those from Allie's Cabin, the Denver Chop House, and Splendido, will team up with a guest chef to present special five-course menus during the Classic.

Wine tastings, seminars, and chef demonstrations are part of the long weekend of special events. Package prices for the Beaver Creek Culinary Classic start at $490 and includes the opening night welcome reception and performance, the Culinaryfest at the Vilar Center, one wine tasting, and two five-course dinners at Beaver Creek restaurants. Other packages, as well as single event tickets, are available.

To book air and lodging packages call 800-594-0104/ http://www.beavercreek.com/lodgingreservations.asp

Beaver Creek also offers a Summer Culinary Festival, which runs from June 23-25 and the National Pastry Team Championship is on June 24. For tickets and event information, call 1-888-920-2787. To book air and lodging packages call 800-594-0104/ http://www.beavercreek.com/lodgingreservations.asp