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Dispatch From Aspen: Appleman/Nieporent, the Jose Andres Machine, Pepin's Reign and More!

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Just about a day into the '09 Food & Wine Classic, we've already had Mario Batali and Nancy Silverton flirt, Blais almost get tossed, and Dave Chang ride a bike. Last night's marquee events were the opening reception—which featured all Top Chef winners (except Hung?) cooking up dishes—then a house party at Jose Andres' place, all followed by the full schedule today. Here are some thoughts on the first 24 hours:

1) Oh, to be able to listen in on the conversation when NYC restaurant mogul Drew Nieporent and Nate Appleman hugged and chatted in the corner during last night's kickoff party.

2) Speaking of the opening bash, we're pretty sure everyone here shared the exact sentiment, but here it is anyway: poor Season Four victor Stephanie Izard was the only Top Chef winner whose station was outside. In the rain. She's a trooper.

3) Kudos to (a very sleepy) Michael Chiarello for not strangling the kid jumping around his aisle on his flight to Denver while he was trying to take a nap. But who would've thunk the Napa Stylist would fly coach? Hope you got some rest, sir.

4) Spanish molecular gastronomist and DC-based chef (and most recently, LA's newest four-star recipient) Jose Andres hosted a shindig at his house, during which he didn't even leave his post in the outdoor kitchen during the entire party. Guy can cook, too.

5) Andres, by the way, has taken the early lead in the soundbyte machine category. Jose on television chef Ming Tsai, who nestled up a corner spot at the bar: "Ming Tsai is not Chinese. He had an operation. I think he's from Wisconsin."

6) Onto the gossip front. The good news is that Top Chef Season Five alums Hosea and Leah were both there too. The better news is that we're pretty sure we don't care if they are/aren't an item.

7) And then there's old-school French chef Jacques Pepin, who is pretty much playing the culinary god role this weekend. For example, when Jacques Pepin wants a sausage at Jose Andres' party, Jacques Pepin doesn't wait for a sausage. Jacques Pepin just strolls into Andres' kitchen to snag a sausage. This is his playground, you see.
· Eater on Location: Live at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic [~ESF~]

More from Aspen tomorrow and throughout the weekend. In the meantime, you can follow along at #fwclassic if your heart desires.

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