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What Was Ali Larter Doing at the Food & Wine Classic?

Ali Larter Michael Voltaggio - H 2013
Courtesy of Red Mtn Productions
Ali Larter and Michael Voltaggio

Billionaire foodies gathered at the Aspen culinary festival along with the "Heroes" actress for a dinner prepared by Chef Michael Voltaggio.

Unless you count chefs as celebrities — and some of them actually are — the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen is notoriously glorious and light on the bold faced.

But for some reason, on Friday night, I found myself in a $16 million private home with two Lamborghinis in the driveway, slightly nervous about having dinner with Ali Larter, the actress I remember from being scarily bipolar on Heroes but whose new show, Legends, just got picked up by TNT for 2014. We were there for a dinner prepared by Chef Michael Voltaggio, one of this year’s Best New Chefs.  

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Already those are a lot of weird things jumbled together. Without getting too “This is how your sausage gets made,” the house was on the market, listed by Billy Rose, he of L.A. power firm The Agency, and many of the twenty dinner guests were billionaire foodies. Michael Voltaggio has an arrangement with Lamborghini and Lamborghini hopes to sell the cars to aforementioned billionaire foodies while Mr. Rose, not in attendance, wished to do the same for the house. But what was Ali Larter doing there?



 “I wouldn’t call myself a foodie,” Ms Larter explained to The Hollywood Reporter, as we drank Goose Island beer in the sprawling downstairs bar of the house and munched on deep fried crispy beef tendon.  Nevertheless, Ms. Larter has a cookbook coming out in September, Ali Larter’s Kitchen Revelry. “But my food isn’t precious,” she explained, as I wondered  a) if I was standing too close to her and b) who the guy with the nice cashmere standing with us was. [It was her manager, Michael Bircumshaw.]


According to Ms. Larter, she spends many late nights planning and testing recipes for the dinner parties she throws in her Hollywood Hills home. The book isn’t Jacques Pepin’s La Technique. “It’s about having a good time and getting wild,” she said.  “Basically,” she explained, “it’s for people who want to entertain, whether it’s two people or a dinner party of 16.”  The subtitle is “A Year of Festive Menus from My Home to Yours.”

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I wanted to mention Gwyneth Paltrow, who has turned GOOP, her entertaining lifestyle newsletter, into a burgeoning kitchen industrial complex, but I thought it would be ill-advised. Instead, we chatted about New York City apartments and the difficulties of entertaining therein. “New York is it’s own country,” Ms. Larter observed.


Later I saw Ms. Larter chatting with Kate Krader, the restaurant editor at F&W, over a dish called “Slow cooked beef, turnips pretending to be beef.”  The reason for her presence became clear: She was readying for her jump into the lifestyle space, one dinner party at a time.


By 8 p.m., the billionaires were full of Far Niente cabernet, the sun was setting over Mt. Sopris, swallows swooped through the air and Ms. Larter  gradually circled ever closer to becoming a foodie.