José Andrés Is The Mayor Of Aspen (For A Weekend)
And always traveling with a leg of jamon Iberico
There is no short supply of celebrity cheffage at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic. Hell, they fly in by the jet-full. But there is only one José Andrés, that great Spanish culinary ambassador running restaurants in Miami, Las Vegas and Washington D.C. He throws the best parties over the just-finished, long, party-packed weekend, and crashes others while usually carrying a leg of jamon Iberico with him. I caught up with him on Saturday afternoon at a playground.
How long have you been coming to Aspen?
Is this like a vacation for you?
I don’t do that many events and when I do, I like to do them well. But first and foremost this is family time with my wife and daughters.
You throw what many say is the best party in Aspen, the Wines from Spain barbecue on Thursday night. How was this conceived?
This year has become very big, almost too big. It asks the question — who is the most important person, and who is not. I think you should be nice and open your door to everybody, but that doesn’t always happen and I have to leave a lot of people out.
You held it at this house that was like $80 million or something.
People were having a good time. Wines from Spain have been doing this for 20 years, so they how to do it.
You had a lot of celebrity chefs in the house. How do you get the guest list together?
There is a party every five minutes in Aspen, so you can’t expect everybody to come to you. But I’m really happy that people could spend a couple hours with us, drink some wine and eat some good food.
The food was good man. Where did you get your pigs?
The pig comes from Salamanca in Spain and are finished on acorns. I’ll tell you, there is no meat like it in the world.
What is your secret spot in Aspen?
We like to go to the Maroon Bells up in the mountain. There’s a beautiful lake and it’s all to you. Nobody is there.
I heard a little rumor that you were opening in New York.
Well, let me put it this way, it’s getting closer.
Did you sign a lease?
It’s getting closer (laughing).
OK, theoretically, what type of restaurant would you want to open in New York?
New York is a power force in the world. If I go there, I want to do something that is a gift to New Yorkers. I want to do something that is very special. Obviously, Spain has to be present.
So it’s a Spanish restaurant?
Spain will be present and it has to be creative. We’ve been talking about me going to New York for years. You have to respect the competition and be ready to open something that is creative.
Do you like Seamus’ restaurant, Tertulia?
It’s nice. Nice job.
How long have you had your paella pan?
One has been with my forever. Thirty years maybe.
Additional reporting by James McIntyre