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Telluride Reserve-Redefining The Food & Wine Festival

A look at how Telluride’s new food and wine celebration came to life...

Telluride Ski Resort's Wine Director Andrew Shaffner and VP of Culinary Services Stephen Roth have attended food and wine festivals across the country. They’re fans of these events, perhaps more so than the average attendee, like musicians going to see their favorite artists in concerts. Like these musicians, Andrew and Stephen have dreamt of putting on their own show for years.

Thus, in partnership with Telluride Ski Resort and Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association, Stephen and Andrew created Telluride Reserve, a new take on the food and wine festival. Hosted in Telluride’s Mountain Village, Stephen and Andrew have brought together diverse and award-winning chefs, winemakers, and culinary influencers to share with guests the cultures and vibrant stories of food and wine—in intimate settings like luxury private homes.

Stephen Roth is Telluride Ski Resort’s VP of Culinary Services. He oversees all culinary offerings at the resort, including the flagship restaurant, Allred's. The New Jersey native is a French Culinary Institute-educated chef with 31 years of industry experience encompassing all facets of culinary and restaurant management. His experiences have taken him from Los Angeles to New York, working with some of the top restaurateurs in the country.

Andrew Shaffner is Telluride Ski Resort’s Wine Director and resident Sommelier. In addition to hand-selecting a 1,200-bottle wine list for Allred’s, Shaffner continues to focus on building the resort’s wine list across its 13 restaurants. He also curates Telski's rare-wine aging cellars at both Allred’s and Alpino Vino. Prior to coming to Telluride, he spent time at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas as the Assistant Wine Director.

1. Tell us about you. What brought you to Telluride?

AS: After dropping out of graduate school, I moved to Las Vegas to help run the wine program at the Rio. I had some fun and learned a ton, but Vegas was not for me. I jumped at the first chance I had to move away, and went to Colorado 12 years ago to work with the team at Rustico. Eventually, I was recruited by Telluride Ski & Golf to run the newly opened Alpino Vino!

SR: 15 years ago, I was looking for a job in the Caribbean after culinary school. When I couldn’t find one, I took a job as a line cook at Allreds for a chef alumni of the International Culinary Center, formerly the French Culinary Institute.

2. What do you love most about working in Telluride?

AS: Seasonality is a great way to live—you work hard and you play hard! Telluride Ski & Golf offers a lot of freedom to be creative, learn, advance, live and raise a family in Telluride. Plus, I ski to and from work every day!

SR: The team of people I get to work with. They’re hardworking, and a ton of fun.

3. What's your all-time favorite meal?

AS: Some of the campfire dinners my wife and I cook. We get pretty crazy! She makes some of the best risotto I have ever had—over a campfire.

SR: My favorite meal or my favorite thing to eat? My favorite thing to eat is wild caught striped bass. My favorite meal is really any spent with friends, outdoors, with well-prepared food and excellent wine.

4. What makes a great pairing?

AS: A sommelier could write a book about this topic—and many have—including one of our guest sommeliers this year, Evan Goldstein, MS. In a word, though, balance.

SR: For me, it’s location. There are many great regions around the world where simple local food matches perfectly with the local drink. But why is that? That why is exactly what we want to explore with our Taste & Terroir lunches at Telluride Reserve.

5. What inspired you to create Telluride Reserve?

AS: The desire to be awesome and to create something extraordinary for the people in this community.

SR: It seems like the timing was right in the community to launch this event. We had a lifetime of connections, a financial backer and a destination that’s ready for such a new and immersive event.

6. What makes Telluride Reserve different from other food and wine festivals?

AS: Intimacy, exclusivity, and a focus on telling stories of food, wine, place and culture.

SR: The intimacy and the access to the chefs, sommeliers and winemakers—they’re not in big tents and not on a stage. They’re in venues like luxury private homes, making this a very different take on the food and wine event. And not to mention the smallness of these events—20 to 30 people per session.

7. Telluride Reserve features flavors from around the world. How did you decide which to feature?

AS: The creative part of the process was time consuming and fun. I think I brainstormed three different “festivals” last summer. I was bouncing ideas around, creating a fantasy world of over-the-top wine lunches, meeting and collaborating with some of the great sommeliers and chefs in the country! There were days when I was like – I want to meet and work with Rajat Parr. So, I called him up and he said yes! Same with Vega Sicilia and Jennifer Jasinski. Just a fantasy that actually worked!

SR: It was a combination of two things. The people Andrew and I know and the places we like. We looked at where the two crossed and the event took shape from there.

8. What do you want to include next year that you weren’t able to this year?

AS: We have a few ideas already. It’s fun to start thinking about next year and to envision how Telluride Reserve may grow and evolve. I would love to do some kind of ridiculous Brunello tasting, or something else way over the top!

SR: I want to explore more regions: Taste & Terroir of Valle de Guadalupe, Taste & Terroir of the Pfalz, Taste & Terroir of Barossa Valley, Taste & Terroir of Marlborough. And of course a Tastevin for day drinking 101 because it’s day drinking and who doesn’t love that?

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