This year marks the fifth anniversary of the James Beard Foundation Taste America tour, and on November 3, the 10-city tour visited Boston. With the region’s best chefs assembled throughout the Taj Hotel, the evening was an ode to eclectic American cooking.
Opening the evening was a VIP reception, with a live pianist playing elegant tunes paired with Pol Roger Champagne. Moving onward (and upward), next came a rooftop reception. It was a perfectly clear night with views of the Boston Common spread out as far as the eye could see.
Standout hors d’oeuvres during the reception were the seared scallops with lentils, mushrooms, and beurre rouge from Carolyn Johnson of 80 Thoreau; the Brussels sprout bravas with chorizo, garlic aioli, and hazelnut migas from Cassie Puma of Sarma; and of course, the delicately poached Rhode Island squid with celery and salted herbs from Marc Sheehan of Loyal Nine.
Guests mingled around, dish and glass in hand, perusing the generously donated auction items with enthusiasm. Once ushered into the main dining hall, Jenny Johnson took over as emcee and Taste America All-Star chef Daniel Boulud presented some of his classic yet fresh takes on French cuisine.
The first course was a lobster gelée with purple potato, leek, root vegetables, and crème fraîche served in a martini glass. Prawn dumplings with lemongrass, oyster leaf, and nasturtium in a slightly spicy Tom Yum broth was up next — offering an interesting change of taste from Karen Akunowicz of Myers + Chang. The pièce de résistance was a deconstructed coq au vin with carrot confit, lardons, trumpet royale mushrooms, and watercress.
For dessert, a pleasant roasted quince with white chocolate labneh and pistachio kanafeh created by Oleana Restaurant’s Maura Kilpatrick delighted the guests. All throughout the meal, wonderful wines provided by Robert Mondavi Winery and Frederick Wildman & Sons kept the guests happy and feeling generous. A live auction was also conducted during the meal.
As diners have come to expect, the Taste America event is one of the best-attended and executed events of the year.
Should you find yourself in New York City, feel free to reach out to the James Beard House for a tour or to book a seat at one of their many guest-chef dinners.