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Local chef Emily Oyer wants to foster unity and community at Aspen Gay Ski Week dinner

 Chef Emily Oyer smiles for a photo.
Sarah Jackson Photography
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Courtesy of Emily Oyer
Chef Emily Oyer smiles for a photo. Oyer will be cooking a multi-course meal on Jan. 20 for Aspen Gay Ski Week.

Chef Emily Oyer talks with her hands. She’s covered in tattoos, speaks of food as a “universal language” and says she sees the shared table as a way to communicate a message of inclusivity.

But, even for someone as expressive as Oyer, it’s hard to describe the significance she senses in the three-course dinner she’ll be preparing for a sold-out women-focused event at 39 Degrees at The W hotel during Aspen Gay Ski Week tomorrow night.

“Being able to kind of make a safe space for gay women, … it means, honestly, more than I can put into words, I think, because this community is extremely marginalized, and we've been going through a lot recently, as well as many other communities,” Oyer said in a Zoom interview last week. “But just being able to come together with the love of food, and the love of kind of how we all identify together, that is just, I mean, truly beyond words. And this town deserves more unity, for sure.”

She said she sees food and cooking as a way to strengthen that sense of unity.

“I'm just a chef who loves cooking food, and I love bringing everyone together, because food is one of those things that everyone needs to feel their bodies,” Oyer said.

Oyer will serve up four different appetizers before a three-course meal showcasing tequila from the female-founded brand 21 Seeds and local produce from the woman-owned Two Roots Farm in Basalt.

She hopes the event on Friday fosters a sense of togetherness and open mindedness among attendees while also showing that “there are other people who can create incredible food, other than people with big masculine energy.”

“I hope people take away, I don't know, just love and realizing that the way people can come together and enjoy food together again, even though they're strangers,” Oyer said. “It's just, the love of food is one of the most universal languages”

Like other programming during Aspen Gay Ski Week, the sold-out event will raise money for the local nonprofit AspenOUT that supports the Roaring Fork Valley’s LGBTQ+ community.

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Kaya Williams is the Edlis Neeson Arts and Culture Reporter at Aspen Public Radio, covering the vibrant creative and cultural scene in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. She studied journalism and history at Boston University, where she also worked for WBUR, WGBH, The Boston Globe and her beloved college newspaper, The Daily Free Press. Williams joins the team after a stint at The Aspen Times, where she reported on Snowmass Village, education, mental health, food, the ski industry, arts and culture and other general assignment stories.