Chef Warren Baird to Host Birthday Dinner in Honor of Thomas Jefferson, ‘Unsung Hero of American Cuisine’

The avid farmer will be honored at a birthday dinner that celebrates his contributions to American cuisine
Esca Chef Warren Baird to Host Birthday Dinner in Honor of Thomas Jefferson, ‘Unsung Hero of American Cuisine’
Wikimedia Commons/Painting by Mather Brown

The birthday menu will focus on a number of Jefferson’s own favorite dishes. 

As part of its Heritage Dinner seriesChapter One American Tavern in New York City’s West Village will host a special dinner celebrating Thomas Jefferson, the founding father and talented horticulturist, on Sunday, April 12, the eve of Jefferson’s birthday.

Jefferson, who grew 330 varieties of 89 species of vegetables and herbs on a thousand foot-long, terraced vegetable garden, and kept a meticulous ledger of his daily gardening habits from 1766 until 1824 — nearly 40 years — was also a proponent of commercial gardening, and kept notes on what was available at the farmer’s market in Washington, D.C.

Warren Baird, previously the sous chef of Esca, will present a menu featuring Jefferson’s favorite dishes.

The menu, full of nods to Jefferson’s life, includes “an un-English muffin” with farm butter, “elegant peas” (one of his favorite vegetables), shad roe with bacon, onions, and brandy (according to chef Baird, “Jefferson constructed fish ponds at various locations on his property to hold and breed fish such as carp and shad, which inspired this course”); guinea fowl in a “Southern” cassoulet ( a nod to Jefferson’s time in Paris as the Minister to France); and finally, blancmange (a molded dessert made with milk or cream, sugar, and gelatin) with quince marmalade. Dessert will be paired with scuppernong wine, noted by Jefferson as “the first specimen of an exquisite wine” produced within the States.

Throughout the evening, Chapter One will serve wine that will “tie Jefferson’s European preferences to the roots he laid in American wine culture.”

The birthday celebration will begin at 6 p.m. at the bar, and dinner will be served at 7 p.m. Seats are available for $55 per person, not including tax and gratuity. 

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