To kick off its 10-city , the James Beard Foundation welcomed many of the host cities’ featured chefs to the James Beard House in New York City.
The event spanned two floors, and fortunately the afternoon’s downpour had ended in time to take advantage of the back patio as well. Guests could see chef Thomas Keller and his team cooking and plating the appetizers in the open kitchen.
No one was without canapes or cocktails for long at this well-attended event. Servers circulated trays piled with Atlantic salmon in tiny cornets or wagyu tartare. The watermelon paloma was the hit cocktail of the night, Roberto Mondavi wines were poured, and a Champagne toast got the crowd to raise its glasses. Tabasco, an event sponsor, hosted a crudité table with customized dip and hot sauce pairings like tzatziki with its popular garlic-pepper sauce.
All-Star chefs Daniel Boulud, Rocco DiSpirito, Traci Des Jardins, and Marc Murphy were on hand, representing Boston, New Orleans, Phoenix, and Philadelphia respectively. In addition to these cities, the tour will visit Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Austin, and Kansas City.
Now in its fifth year, Taste America highlights some of the country’s best regional cooking and pairs nationally recognized chefs with a city’s hometown heroes. Each city will host cooking demonstrations, multi-course dinners, and more.
JBF president Susan Ungaro gave an inspiring speech about what the House has meant to the food community and the importance of highlighting local produce, local cooking techniques, and local talent on a national stage. What drew the most cheers from the audience, though, were the shoutouts to each representative city.
The James Beard House, near Union Square, hosts chefs from around the country for elaborate multi-course dinners. A wine purveyor also joins, pairing beverages with each plate for a perfect meal. The Taste America tour aims to get the experience on the road to make it available to more guests.
Tickets, on sale now, also benefit the Taste America Scholarship Fund, which benefits local culinary students in the 10 participating states.