For winter-loving foodies, these ski resort festivals are haute cuisine in every sense!
Imagine arriving at a rustic mountain hut after snowshoeing through a powdery forest where a table is lavishly set for an intimate dinner curated by the region’s best chefs. Wake up early for first tracks. Then after linking your “S” turns, cozy up to a roaring fire with an organic whiskey and chocolate tasting. When you’re not snowshoeing up or skiing down, arrive to a bespoke alpine dinner in a horse-drawn sleigh.
Forget the ketchup pumps and foil-wrapped burritos at ski resort cafeterias. Treat yourself to a snowy haute cuisine experience that you will reminisce about forever!
Here are my top five winter ski resort festivals perfect foodies:
1. Taste of Vail: Colorado
It’s no coincidence this ski festival is held during the snowiest month of the year. With its emphasis on wine seminars, you might just come back an amateur sommelier. Learn how to create your very own wine blend with Bob Iantosca. He’ll teach you the basics of wine bases and you take it from there with your own signature blend. If you want to challenge your palate, try a blind wine-tasting seminar. You are also invited to chat with the winemakers themselves. In every wine tent the owner and/or winemaker is pouring. If you’re craving altitude, the Mountaintop Tasting is held at 10,350 feet and serves up not only local fresh fare; but also stunning mountain views to drink in.
2. Banff’s Big Taste Culinary Festival: Alberta, Canada
What goes best with a morning full of fresh tracks in powder? A four-course meal at the iconic Whitehorn Bistro. At 6,700 ft. the stunning views of the Rockies are complimentary. When you’re ready to wind down, head to Park Distillery where Master Distiller Matt Hendriks will give you a tour and tasting of the organic Park Glacier Rye. But wait, there’s more. If art if your jam, join the Art Food & Wine Dinner with Canadian artist Les Thomas. He’ll present and discuss unique pieces of his signature mountain art with each course during your meal. And if you’re looking for a friendly meet-and-greet vibe, The Grand Tasting Hall is a relaxed and refined event with a farm-to-table emphasis featuring the very best in winter comfort food.
3. Beaver Creek’s Winter Culinary Weekend: Colorado
Want to mix and match your desire for culinary exploration with high-alpine outdoor adventure? You can indulge both at Beaver Creek’s Winter Culinary Weekend. Snowy culinary experiences include arriving in a open-air sleigh to an intimate affair at Allie’s Cabin Wine Dinner. Then top off your night with their Thursday Night Lights Fireworks. Throughout the weekend you’ll discover snowshoe tours that wind through snowy woods to lunches prepared by celebrity chefs the likes of Hugh Acheson, Jennifer Jasinski, and Suzanne Tracht. The Apres Ski Beer Garden is free all weekend long and is quite a party. Keep it casual or dress up and hit the speakeasy for handcrafted cocktails and a live swing band.
4. Gourmet Festival: St. Moritz, Switzerland
If Swiss chocolate and fine champagne are your vibe, head straight to the magical Upper Engadine where St. Moritz’s glitzy ski and culinary scene come together for a wild and wonderful weekend of international cuisine. A favorite event is the Chocolate Cult where you’ll be temped by the very best in Swiss chocolate from famous confectioners such as Lisbeth Werder. Another not to miss event is the Wine & Cheese Celebration with Maître Antonyat the Cava of Hotel Steffani. He personally walks you through a wine and cheese pairing like you have never experienced before. Antonyat is a celebrated éleveur de fromages (cheese maker) and will host a very special Cérémonie de Fromages (cheese ceremony) that will make your tastebuds sing. Events are not stuffy, but elegant affairs. Feel free to dress up or come as you are off slope. It is a ski resort after all.
5. Skisafari: Alta Badia, Italy
European mountain hut dining is a pleasure unto itself. Located in the heart of the Italian Dolomites, a UNESCO world heritage site, Alta Badia is known for it’s culinary treasures and excellent high altitude wine. During the Skisafari, a local chef will create a South Tyrollean speciality dish for each mountain hut including“Kespe Sorpa” fresh noodles with aromatic bouillon in the Piz Arlara. Skiers can travel from one hut to the next to and taste as many of the hearty dishes to their heart’s content. Each specialty is paired with local South Tyrollean wine, some of which you won’t be able to taste anywhere else. A longtime supporter of sustainability, Alta Badia is also host to Care’s “Ethical Chef Days” where top chefs around the world meet to discuss low impact gastronomy.
Tips for Foodie Ski Resort Festivals:
- Alpine winter menus tend to be meaty. Vegetarian and vegan options are (almost) always available upon request in advance.
- When it snows, the show still goes on. Check the weather and dress accordingly, especially for evening events.
- Ticket prices range from $35 to $200+ per seminar and/or tasting. So there are plenty of delicious events for every foodie’s budget.
- Popular events and limited seating seminars often sell out. Get your tickets early!
Image of Gourmet Festival St. Moritz via swiss-image.ch/Photo Andy Mettler