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Colorado Favorite and East/West Coast Award-Winners Selected to Present at the 20th Annual Taste of Vail Food & Wine Festival

CREATED: 2010-02-16 09:27 AM

Vail, Colo. - Feb. 16, 2010 - To commemorate 20 years of presenting the best of the best chefs both locally and throughout the country, a diverse group of showcase chefs have been selected to cook alongside the Vail Valley's finest during the 20th Annual Taste of Vail, April 8-10, 2010. Colorado favorite Chef Jennifer Jasinski from Rioja and Bistro Vendôme will cook at the event with Northern California's Chef Sondra Bernstein from girl & the fig in Sonoma and Chef Frank McClelland from the No. 1 Zagat rated L'Espalier in Boston.

Chef Jasinski moved to Colorado in 2000 after a fruitful career, which took her coast-to-coast. Having completed her culinary studies by age 21, Jasinski honed her skills by working for some of the most renowned restaurants and chefs in the country. Her long list of well-known restaurants includes the Rainbow Room in New York, Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles and the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas. She also spent 10 years with Wolfgang Puck helping develop and open restaurants, create menus, train and manage staff, and, of course, wear her chef's hat for restaurant concepts ranging from fine dining to café cuisine. Her impressive restaurant credits include sous chef at Postrio, San Francisco; café chef at Spago, Las Vegas; executive sous chef at Granita, Malibu; executive sous chef at Spago, Chicago; and corporate chef at Wolfgang Puck Food Company. With Puck's support and encouragement, she even did a stint in Paris at Ledoyan, a Michelin two-star restaurant.

After traveling the country with Puck, Jasinski moved to Colorado to become executive chef at Panzano, where profiles and reviews in local and national publications put Jasinski at the head of her class. In 2004, Jasinski and business partner Beth Gruitch opened Rioja, a restaurant in Denver's Larimer Square with a contemporary design and Mediterranean menu influenced by local and seasonal Rocky Mountain ingredients. In April 2006, Jasinski and Gruitch made the decision to purchase Bistro Vendôme, a classic French bistro located across the street from Rioja.

Jasinski was named 2004 Colorado Chef of the Year and 2005 Western Regional Chef of the Year by the American Culinary Federation, and also appeared on The Food Network's "Thanksgiving Challenge.' Rioja and Bistro Vendôme are consistently listed amongst the top restaurants in Denver by 5280 Magazine and the Gabby Gourmet Restaurant Guide. Jasinski has been named Chef of the Year, Best New Chef, Rising Star and more in Restaurant Hospitality, Nation's Restaurant News, The Denver Post and 5280 Magazine. In 2007, she was the Jean Yancey award winner in the National Association of Women Business Owners Outstanding Women in Business awards presented by the Denver Business Journal.

Another outstanding female Chef Sondra Bernstein will be joining Jasinski at Taste of Vail. Owner and Chef Bernstein opened the girl & the fig in 1997 originally in Glen Ellen, Calif. Slowly people began to discover the rustic French food and the unique way of marketing and presenting it. In 2000 she relocated the restaurant into more upscale quarters on the northwest corner of the square in Sonoma in the historic Sonoma Hotel. Over the past twelve years the girl & the fig has made its mark in Wine Country and has been a longtime favorite for both locals and visitors to the area.

Just as Taste of Vail is about taking a piece of the Vail lifestyle home with you, Bernstein believes the same should be said about a restaurant experience. With this in mind, she debuted the girl & the fig Cookbook, with "More than One Hundred Recipes from the Acclaimed Wine Country Restaurant" published by Simon & Schuster. The other way to make the "fig" last is through the "FIG FOOD" product line. This includes jam, chutney, compote, vinegar, vinaigrette and herb blends that are sold nationwide. These are all natural, artisan produced gourmet food products that are available in the restaurants, at www.thegirlandthefig.com and in stores nationwide. In 2008, she took over the historic property in Sonoma known as "The General's Daughter" and turned it into ESTATE, what she tags as Sonoma food with an Italian accent. The property has extensive gardens whereas much of the produce gets used in the kitchen.

Bernstein spent more than 20 years in the hospitality industry in Philadelphia and Los Angeles before she headed to wine country. She felt that having restaurants in Sonoma County was a tribute to the efforts of the farmers, ranchers, cheese makers and, of course, grape growers and vintners in their bountiful, natural landscape.

Bernstein's restaurants are mixed media collages that incorporate all of the five senses. Her philosophy of dining is as follows; "dining is an analogy to theatre. First of all, you need to start with the real thing (in theatre = raw talent) (in dining = raw product). Then it takes a lot of practice before the curtain goes up. The passion, the intensity, the teamwork, and the integrity all drive the work to a climax (guest satisfaction and personal accomplishment). This successful philosophy has captured rave reviews from media outlets such as the New York Times, Bon Appetit magazine, Los Angeles Times, Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast.

As for accolades, the list of awards and acknowledgements for Chef Frank McClelland of Boston's L'Espalier are endless. McClelland's love of cooking began while growing up on his grandparents' farm in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. This interest grew to become a passion and a career as one of the nation's top chefs. In the kitchen, as well as in the dining room, McClelland is known for his pursuit of perfection, his intensity and a love for what he does. This unending aspiration for perfection has been instrumental in establishing the standard for fine dining in Boston.

By the age of 25, McClelland had already been a chef in two of the most respected kitchens in Boston - The Harvest in Cambridge and L'Espalier. In 1984, he became Executive Chef at The Country Inn at Princeton in western Massachusetts where he developed a lasting relationship with the local farmers. McClelland combined his love of regional ingredients with his European techniques to create his own signature cuisine. At The Country Inn he earned a four-star rating from The Boston Globe as well as being named one of the country's top 25 new chefs by Food & Wine.

Since his purchase in 1988, L'Espalier has become one of the top 20 restaurants in the country. L'Espalier's numerous awards and accolades include being named No. 1 in Zagat, Boston for the last eight years and being the only independent restaurant in New England for the last six years to receive Five Diamonds from AAA.

To experience the culinary expertise and distinctive tastes presented by chefs Jasinski, Bernstien and McClelland, please visit www.tasteofvail.com or call 970-926-5665 for tickets to the 20th annual event. Taste of Vail is the nation's premier spring food and wine festival, held at several venues throughout North America's most popular mountain resort. Ticket prices begin at $4 for the Colorado Lamb Cookoff or attendees can purchase a $60 all-you-can eat and drink wristband for the competition. An all-event Festival Pass is $495, the Sampler Festival Pass is $345, tickets for the Mountaintop Picnic are $135 and the Grand Tasting is $150. Seminar tickets begin at $35 per person.

All proceeds from the Taste of Vail benefit local non-profit organizations in the Vail Valley such as the Red Ribbon Project, Boarder to Boarder, Food Banks of Eagle County, Shaw Regional Cancer Center, Eagle County Hospice, Jazz Goes to Schools, and the Vail Valley Youth Foundation to name a few.

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Media Contact:
Kristin Yantis, Malen Yantis Public Relations, (775) 351-7904, kyantis@myprco.com


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