Better with Age
By Dan Greeson
Nicole Jarman’s passion shines through when the topic of the culinary arts comes up.
Jarman, owner of HobNob Events and showrunner of the Steamboat Springs’ Food & Wine Festival, has a 15-year history of event-planning and nurturing a sense of community. She previously worked on the U.S. Pro Challenge and has produced more than 1200 Colorado events, but she approaches the Food & Wine Festival with fresh excitement.
The Food & Wine Festival’s previous iteration, the Steamboat Wine Festival, had taken a year off before Jarman and the team at HobNob took the reins and reignited it in 2019. “We tried to take into account a lot of the feedback that we heard about the last iteration of the festival,” she says. “In order to make the festival more restaurant-friendly, we came up with a new model that we hoped would benefit everyone.”
The inaugural Food & Wine Festival in 2019 included demonstrations in Gondola Square, dinners hosted by master sommeliers, wine makers and top-level chefs, brunches, seminars and various classes. As the name change would imply, Jarman wanted to incorporate the food side of dining much more in the new festival. “At the big tasting at the Grand, it was a 1:1 food-to-wine ratio,” Jarman says. The chosen foods, she explains, were coordinated through the Community Agriculture Alliance so that everyone involved was conscious of where the food came from. “We were very focused on food integrity,” Jarman adds.
In addition to incorporating more foods, the new iteration of Wine Fest delves into every nook and cranny of the culinary experience. “We had this salt-of-the-earth, artisan theme we were going after, so we featured things like knife-forging demonstrations,” Jarman says.
Incorporating feedback from the previous festival, Jarman strove to find balance between bringing in outside talent and utilizing the culinary experts of Steamboat. “It goes two ways,” she explains. “We want events to be accessible to people in town, and supporting the town, but we also want to bring people into town who wouldn’t normally be here.” This balance resulted in a huge success.
For this year’s festival, slated for Thursday-Sunday, Oct. 1-4, Jarman hopes to expand on the themes of the 2019 festival. “We’re looking to have a bigger emphasis on local food,” Jarman says. In addition, the Food & Wine Festival will increase the number small, low-key events – keeping the atmosphere relaxed and non-pretentious.
The 2020 festival features Alex Seidel, the award-winning chef of Denver's Mercantile Dining & Provisions in Union Station and Fruition, and Hosea Rosenberg, executive chef and owner of the acclaimed Boulder restaurant Blackbelly, among many other culinary experts. Other highlights this year include a filmand wine tasting at the Chief Theater, interactive seminars on Spanish wines, cooking with spices, cocktails and bitters, a master class on the wine terroirs of Oregon and the iconic Grand Tasting event in Gondola Square. “We’d really like to spark a year-round conversation about the wines,” Jarman says.
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, Jarman emphasizes that this is the perfect time to support chefs, vineyards and other small businesses reeling economically. “We want to help everyone be successful,” she says. For safety purposes, this year’s festival features smaller events and greater distance between attendees. The Steamboat Food & Wine Festival also has a flexible cancellation policy to provide extra peace-of-mind. Wine Festival organizers plan to follow all CDC guidelines, as well as those of the International Festivals and Events Association and the state and local health departments.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS