Chef Alex Forsythe Stimulates The Senses

In Aspen and around the world, Forsythe is the go-to for creative cuisine, themed menus and unforgettable experiences.
Chef Alex Forsythe, creator of extraordinary events and healthy cuisine.  Photo: Joshua Sukoff

By Jim Servin

Picture this: In a large-scale venue, a church or an art museum perhaps, attendees of a themed dinner orchestrated and prepared by chef Alex Forsythe are seated, blindfolded, around a long table. The guests—winners of a four-course gourmet meal auctioned to benefit Aspen Camp of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing—are greeted by a variety of sounds, scents and flavors in creative combinations and sequences meant to heighten sensory awareness. The chill of blasting CO2 is followed by a warm soup; the crisp, clean aroma of hickory smoke accompanies morel risotto. Mexican music is a prelude to poblano relleno, the chef’s specialty, and the sweet rice beverage horchata.

Still deep in the planning stages of the spectacle, to be staged in February, Forsythe enthuses over various possibilities: the scent of roasted peppers, the soft breeze of a fan. Pine needles, geothermal noises, a guitar instrumental. Cherry blossoms, vodka mist. Sounds of a winter storm ushering in servings of pickled herring and caviar. Lavender sorbet, fresh croissants. The evening is based on blindekuh (a variation on the German word “Blindekuh,” for “blindman’s buff” or “blind cow”), acclaimed Swiss restaurants where patrons are served in the dark by visually impaired waitstaff to raise awareness of blindness. Forsythe is adapting the concept to hearing loss, “understanding what it would be like to be deaf,” he says, “and taking an opulent experience and making it healthy.”

Such is the inspired culinary artistry of one of Aspen’s most beloved chefs, an Oklahoma native whose training at Le Cordon Bleu and Culinary Institute of America, along with global travels, prepared him for pleasing the sophisticated palates—off-piste Champagne and charcuterie, anyone?—and hearts of those who have entrusted him with delivering extraordinary experiences on yachts, planes, trains and estates. 

The gourmet places high value on the human connection, especially for his clients, for whom he goes to great lengths to delight. “People love that I am super-enthusiastic and healthy-minded,” he says. “There’s a lot that I do on the concierge level to make people’s vacations beyond unique. I’ve hired fire dancers, I take people fly-fishing, I’ve got the guy in Aspen who comes out with a telescope and we look at the stars.” The well-being of fellow chefs is a top priority. In 2006, Forsythe created Executive Chef Services, “a round table of culinary enthusiasts,” he calls them, which exists both to promote the private chefs, currently 38, “from Jackson Hole to Durango” and build a network of support. (Executive Chef Services has a toll-free number, 866.999.1327, for referrals; if Forsythe is available, he’ll also field questions. “People know that I will help them, if they need direction—even if it’s for a recipe,” he says.) 

Once spring arrives, he’s globe-trotting, whipping up themed meals on private yachts, but from November to April, and then July through September, Forsythe is Aspen-based. He loves soaking in hot springs and staring at the stars, dining at Jing, where eel is his favorite dish, and of course, skiing: “I’m definitely a Snowmass guy. It’s just the perfect amount of steep and deep. Aspen is beyond unique. It’s like Hunter S. Thompson said: ‘I can go anywhere, but I’m home here.’”