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A personal note…the pictures in this post don’t follow along with the text…just giving you some visuals as you read…and, yes, I took all of them…

Entering contests is one of my avocations–I mean someone has to win, right?  I’ve entered quite a few in my lifetime, “I’m a Contest Junkie,” and won some pretty darn neat ones!  This particular contest was sponsored by Campo Viejo wines.  It’s a Spanish company, and the name of the contest was ‘Color Me Uncorked.  You had to submit a unique recipe that reflected the colors of the wines in their collection.  I did.  I won.   The grand prize?  A 4-course dinner for ten in your home prepared by Chef Anthony Sasso who’s an up and coming celebrity chef who is at the Michelin-star Casa Mono & Bar Jamon, a NYC eatery owned by Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich.

Planning for this dinner has taken months of work with the marketing/advertising company handling the arrangements, ‘The Thomas Collective’ in NYC.  I’ve been working with some real nice folks, and now we’re down to the wire and only a week away!  Probably one of the most challenging things was deciding   whether to have the dinner at our home in SC or in CO.  Ben and I decided CO would be better because of the heat of SC in August!  The next big decision—who to invite?  I mean we have so many friends, family and foodie friends that we’d love to have, but we could only invite a few.  One thing that dictated this was being in Colorado, so we decided to invite our favorite most passionate foodies here.  Then I decided to invite several of my girlfriend foodies from around the country, who would be willing to fly in, of course, for the event.

Our guest list…

Penny and Jerry—great long-time friends who live in CO, are former restaurant owners specializing in BBQ, who also grew up in the same western NC town as Ben.  Yes, when we all get together, that’s all they talk about, and I have to call a time out!  I’ve learned so much from Jerry about BBQ, which interestingly he and Penny do not eat because they gave up beef and pork decades ago—go figure!

Leslie and Steve—foodie friends who live on a beautiful ranch, horse people, here in Colorado.  We’ve had so many great meals at their home!  They’re world traveled and have a passion for good food, wine, friends, laughter, dancing and all the things that make for a fun evening!

Jim and Joette—both are foodie experts having spent a lot of time in France and dining around the world.  Joette has written a cookbook, and her French country twist on living and eating has been a huge influence on me.  She’s the editor of Vail Valley Magazine, and we have so much in common with design, decorating, food and hosting parties.

Reagan—my treasured friend that I met in Boston when Ben and I recently lived there for about 2 ½ years.  Reagan and I met in the most unusual circumstances.  We’d both auditioned for MasterChef Season 1 and got callbacks.  So we went through the saga together hoping one or the other would be case.  Neither of us were cast for Season 1—I re-auditioned for Season 2, Reagan did not—I was cast!  And, Reagan came to California to watch me do my debut cooking—now that’s a friend!  After that experience, Reagan decided she’d not re-audition.

Whitney—my yogini and webmeister from SC!  Whitney, young, vibrant, talented, cool and always hip, has taken Ally’s Kitchen, the website, the brand, Bohemian Bold cooking and living, and is molding it into something that we hope will be quite marketable.  Her background in advertising and her knowledge of websites, social media, and branding makes her the perfect fit for us—we work casually, but diligently, in my kitchen always with coffee and something great to eat!

Beth—my soul foodie sistah from Chicago!  Beth and I first met when we were teamed up together as roommates during MasterChef Season 2.  You really must like someone, have common grounds with this person when you’re thrust together for over two weeks, most of the time sequestered and watched 24/7, during taping of a major reality TV show.  We knew we would make it when we both showed up in the room with the very same shoes on!

The really neat thing about this entire deal is that Chef Anthony, Reagan, Whitney and Beth are all guests of ours here in our home.  So, we’re starting our process of getting ready for company, plus the dinner of a lifetime prepared by one outstanding chef.  Yes, we all will be his sous chefs—and, we’ll soak up some amazing tips!

So what’s been on our ‘to do’ list for day 7,  Saturday July 28…I mean this soiree is going to be a week of getting everything just right!


Polishing all the silver—it really needed it!


Readying each of the guests’ bedrooms—bottled water (easy to get dehydrated in the mountains), reading material/magazines about the Vail Valley, special soaps, fresh towels, fresh flowers to come later, and, yes, their linens are ironed and it’s 5-star all the way.  They’re all making a huge trek to be here, and they’ll have a Ritz experience.



Picking up the guest goodie bags I’ll put in each of their rooms.  Got some cool things that will be mementos of this great long weekend and also remind them of Colorado. Testing a new breakfast recipe for next Saturday morning—it’s a winner—I know what I’ll be fixing!

Planning menu for Saturday night August 4th—the girls and I will be the chefs and treat Chef Anthony to our cooking. And, making sure his bedroom isn’t toooooo girrleee girleee!

Getting all the wine, per Chef Anthony’s recommendations.  Then making sure he’s got a man-cave like bathroom with a Western twist—I mean he’ll remember this!  


Deadheading the flowers in the window boxes in two of the bedrooms.





Inspecting the bathrooms to make sure there’s everything there each would need including a bathrobe and that sinks, toilets, mirrors, and showers are sparkling!

NOTE:  No, we don’t have any ‘help’—as in a a maid or housekeeper—we, as in Ben and I, be ‘the help.’

Picking up some special coffees and liqueurs.

Writing this post and taking pictures so you can follow along…and, believe me, getting all these photos in and making sure the post is halfway decent takes me sooooooooooooooooo much time!

But, it’s totally worth the painstaking patience because it’s because of my foodie universe family that this entire occasion is happening–you’re the ones who voted, who shared, who supported me in this recipe competition for the ‘Color Me Uncorked’ Contest.

I sure hope you feel like you’re experiencing some of this extravaganza vicariously–now, it’s time to post and come back and read Day 6 of the countdown.  The big dinner is Sunday August 5th 2012 and, believe me, there will be lots of pictures and videos for even more enjoyment and memories.

Oh, one more thing, you will not believe the menu!  You have to come back to find out what Chef Anthony will be preparing!




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