Chef promises benefit feast “fit for the gods”

Wayne Smith promises a feast “fit for the gods” at an annual benefit showcasing food, wine and spirits.

Smith will lead a team of culinary instructors who will prepare a VIP luncheon at Edesia, set for April 2 at the Wine Country Inn, located at 777 Grande River Drive in Palisade.

The VIP luncheon is set for 11 a.m., followed by the main event from 2 to 5 p.m. Tickets to the VIP luncheon sell for $125 and also include admission to the main event. Tickets to the main event sell for $65. For tickets or more information, call 464-5777 or visit

Smith’s team will include Jonathan St. Peter, Elizabeth Branscum and Deb Henderson. They all work in the culinary arts program at Western Colorado Community College, a division of Colorado Mesa University.

Jenne Baldwin-Eaton, who joined the program last fall to offer instruction in viticulture and enology, will pour selectively paired wines and offer insights about their characteristics.

Smith said he plans to create a unique culinary experience that will put guests in touch with the creation of the dishes they’re tasting. Some of the dishes will incorporate products from Jack Daniel’s, the spirit sponsor of Edesia.

David Kassera, chef at the Wine Country Inn, said he’s happy to showcase the culinary arts program at WCCC. “The public may not be familiar with the quality of training these talented chef instructors provide for students who will staff our restaurants and institutions.”

The new viticulture and enology instruction at WCCC is the only publicly supported program of its kind available in Colorado. “For our local wine industry, that’s a major asset,” Kassera said.

The WCCC chefs also will present culinary demonstrations for the main event in the Vitner’s House at the Wine Country Inn at 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m.    

Named for the Roman goddess of food and drink, Edesia will showcase Jack Daniel’s and Colorado wines, beers and spirits as well as food from local restaurants and caterers.

This is the seventh year  Wine Country Inn has sponsored the fund-raiser  for the Marillac Clinic, which provides a range of health care services to Mesa County residents. The event raised $25,000 in 2016, bringing to $111,000 total contributions over the past six years.

Edesia is presented by Alpine Bank, Jack Daniel’s and St. Mary’s Medical Center in addition to other sponsors.