Press Releases

Sonnenalp joins Chefs Showcase Dinner lineup

CREATED: 2006-02-23 11:46 AM


Media contact:
Stephen Lloyd Wood, media liaison

VAIL, Colo. - Imagine epic food and great wine, all for a good cause.

The Sonnenalp Resort at Vail has joined the nation's premier spring food and wine festival as host to one of this year's most anticipated culinary events. On Thursday, April 6, at 7 p.m., Executive Chef Adam Roustom hosts guest chef Martial Noguier of Chicago's renowned one sixtyblue at one of three Chefs Showcase Dinners as part of Taste of Vail, benefiting Vail Valley Charities for 16 years.

"I'm happy, and honored, to participate," says Noguier, a product of the prestigious Ecole Superieure de Cuisine Francaise in Paris and a proud recipient of three stars by critics at the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Magazine. "Chicago is a very good town for food. But it's always good to travel and promote the restaurant - whether it's to New York, or Las Vegas, or Vail."

The five-course, five-chef gourmet dinner promises to be a culinary extravaganza, as three other Vail chefs will be on hand, as well:
• Chef Peter Millette of Sapphire Restaurant and Oyster Bar.
• Chef Brett Villarmia of La Tour.
• Chef Kevin Nelson of Terra Bistro.

"It's an honor to be involved," says Sapphire's Chef Millette, a veteran of such events having participated in Taste of Vail for 12 years. "And it's a challenge, too, trying to figure out what the other chefs are doing, then putting your own twist on things. I'm really looking forward to it."

The Taste of Vail was created in 1990 by a group of Vail Valley restaurateurs as a marketing event to showcase the resort's world-class restaurants. Now the internationally famous community boasts more than 20 Wine Spectator award-winning restaurants - the most of any resort community in the United States. This year, as many as 5,000 attendees and volunteers are expected to participate in the 16th annual Taste of Vail, with chefs from more than three dozen local restaurants and winemakers and/or owners of 58 wineries from around the world participating.

Despite its stature among wine and culinary festivals and a reputation for haute cuisine, the Taste of Vail is a nonprofit organization. In the past 15 years, the festival has contributed more than $300,000 to Vail Valley Charities; and in 2005, in conjunction with Ritz-Carlton, the Taste of Vail donated $13,000 to the Hurricane Katrina relief fund.

Events like Taste of Vail's Chefs Showcase Dinners are complicated affairs known to build camaraderie among chefs, sommeliers and winemakers, as all courses are paired with special selections from participating wineries. The night of the event, they all work together - along with select staff members - as one big team in the host chef's kitchen.

"You're working outside your normal environment, in somebody else's kitchen. But that's part of the fun, too; it's very gratifying working alongside other accomplished, well-respected chefs," says Chef Nelson Chef of Terra Bistro, awarded by Wine Spectator magazine. "Here in Vail, a true dining destination, these events really help perpetuate camaraderie among the local restaurants. They keep the spirit alive."

Organizing such sophisticated culinary events can be quite complicated. Typically, the host chef is the point person, arranging meetings with the other chefs, sommeliers and representatives from the wineries. Once the tone is set, the chefs toss more ideas around until everyone is comfortable with the menu and their role in producing it. The dinners are learning experiences, indeed - not only for diners but for the chefs and sommeliers, as well.

"For me, it's like moving from Asia to Colorado. You get thrown right in and you have to adapt," says Chef Villarmia, known for his innovative "Asian fusion" cuisine at Alan Wong's in Honolulu before arriving on Vail's culinary scene at La Tour. "The stress is there, working with other chefs at this level, but you try to do the best you can and work with what you have. It's fun, though, once you get cooking."

All four Vail Valley chefs welcome Chef Noguier, whose dishes are said to be a blend of a distinctive modernism, high cuisine and a frank understanding of his audience's palate. He's known for his light touch, and his dishes have an inherent freshness and clear flavors. Even through Chicago's harsh midwestern winter, for example, Noguier is known for offering up a crisp combination of sunburst radishes, cantaloupe and cucumber or tomato jelly, candied lemon and horseradish.

One sixtyblue, meanwhile, has been selected as one of the country's best new restaurants by both Esquire and Bon Appetit magazines.

"Martial is a wonderful chef," says David Zadikoff, a principal owner of one sixtyblue, along with basketball great Michael Jordan. "His energy and enthusiasm are, frankly, boundless, and his willingness to grow is one of the hallmarks of his success."

Tickets to the Chefs Showcase Dinner at the Sonnenalp Resort at Vail on Thursday, April 6, at 7 p.m., are $125 per person - and are not included in the Festival Pass. For more information on tickets, travel and lodging, as well as the latest on participating wineries and restaurants, visit

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