Colorado Springs is offered a couple of staycations suggestions

Matthew Zubrod, left, culinary director for The Little Nell Hotel Group, and Oscar Carrasco, executive chef at the hotel.

Even though summer is winding down, there’s still time for a staycation — and I have two suggestions: the Little Nell Culinary Fest in Aspen and food events at the Colorado State Fair.

Not as massive (or expensive) as the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen, the Little Nell Culinary Fest is every bit as impressive. The featured chefs are members of Relaix & Châteaux, an association of the world’s most celebrated restaurants and luxury hotels. And the event is held at Little Nell, Aspen’s premier five-star hotel. The festival runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2.

Here’s a look at the talent:

• Matthew Zubrod, culinary director at The Little Nell Hotel Group, and Oscar Carrasco, executive chef at the hotel. Dining options at The Little Nell include Element 47 fine dining, Ajax Tavern and The Wine Bar.

• Two-Michelin-star chef Gabriel Kreuther, of his 100-seat namesake restaurant in New York since 2015.

• Three-Michelin-star chef Michael Tusk, executive chef and co-owner of Quince in San Francisco, which specializes in Italian and French regional cuisine that’s refined, modern and inspired by the seasonal bounty of Northern California.

• Krista Garcia, executive chef at Hotel Wailea in Maui, with more than 20 years of experience that ranges from pastry and butchery to private dining and cooking classes. She has worked at The French Laundry in the Napa Valley and was a featured chef at The James Beard House in New York.

• Two-Michelin-star chef Richard Lee and culinary director Paul Chung from Saison in San Francisco. Lee’s style is to use the best ingredients from the region he’s in; he’s also a fan of open fire cooking.

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And what would world-class dining be without wine? Plenty of that will be poured by top-notch sommeliers, including Little Nell’s Jesse Libby and Jon Koch as well as Master Sommelier Jay Fletcher.

The weekend is full of a variety of culinary and wine experiences, elegant and casual, including an evening soirée atop Aspen Mountain. Festival participants receive 40% off accommodations at The Little Nell. There are limited tickets to individual events. Last year’s event sold out. Visit thelittlenell.com/ experience/events-calendar.

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Meanwhile, the annual Colorado State Fair, which runs from Aug. 26 to Sept. 5, will offer a taste of the future of dining options in the Steel City. Pueblo’s first food hall, Fuel & Iron Food Hall, will open this fall in the downtown area, and vendors from its five eateries will be on hand at the fair. They include Diavolo Hot Chicken, run by the same folks who own the local favorite Bingo Burger and featuring Colorado-style hot chicken; Mosh Ramen, a creative Asian fusion concept; The Cutting Board, a plant-based kitchen; Cajun-inspired Steel Crescent Kitchen; and Kanastakos, owned by James Beard Award–nominated chef Jose Avila and owner of La Diabla pozoleria, Denver’s first eatery devoted to pozole.

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If you plan your fair visit Aug. 30, you can catch the Governor’s Plate cook-off. Nine food trucks will battle to take home the Golden Plate Award and the People’s Choice Award. Contestants will serve their most creative spins on traditional fair favorites using “Colorado Proud” ingredients grown by local and regional farmers.

The cook-off will be judged by Gov. Jared Polis and event attendees. Tickets are $20 per person at coloradostatefair.com. Tickets include bite-size samples from all nine food trucks competing and allow ticketholders to vote for their favorite dish.

Contact the writer: 636-0271.

contact the writer: 636-0271.

Food editor

Food writer for features life section and columnist for Go! Entertainment - Table Talk column

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