James Beard Foundation
The James Beard Foundation has wrapped up its third-annual Taste America celebration, which is a national program of events that take place in ten cities over six weekends each fall. Chef appearances, cooking demonstrations, and book signings at Sur La Table locations around the country are just the warm-ups for each city’s main event: a benefit dinner featuring a visiting Taste America All-Star, local James Beard Award-winning chefs, and other culinary notables. This year, nearly every one of the dinners sold out, and guests were treated to quite an experience.
Boston, Charleston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Seattle were lucky enough to host dinners this year, proceeds of which went toward supporting the James Beard Foundation, whose programs include educational initiatives, food industry awards, scholarships to culinary schools, publications, chef advocacy training, thought leader conferences, and dinners and maintenance at Greenwich Village’s historic James Beard House. The dinners were presented in association with The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card, which offers the opportunity for cardmembers to experience events such as these as well as a host of travel benefits.
Each dinner started with a walk-around tasting and cocktails with dishes prepared by chefs from some of the city’s most renowned restaurants, followed by a seated dinner created by James Beard Award-winning local chefs as well as visiting culinary superstars. For example, in San Francisco hors d’oeuvres were crafted by chefs including Acquarello’s Suzette Gresham (Marin Gem oyster with Granny Smith apple granite and horseradish crema), Cotogna’s Chris Marchino (octopus terrine with salsa verde), and Delfina’s James Beard Award-winning Craig Stoll (wild fennel sformatino with fresh snails). Main dishes were prepared by Quince’s James Beard Award winning chef Michael Tusk (chickpea vellutata with Tierra Farm peppers, tubetti, and smoked black cod) and visiting chef Tony Mantuano of Chicago’s Spiaggia (winter squash antipasto with candied almonds, pepperoncino, and Taleggio; pork shoulder with roasted peppers, polenta, chestnut honey, and radish).
This tradition isn’t just a wonderful way for diners in each city to experience the cooking of some of their city’s (and America’s) finest and most award-winning chefs, it’s also a great way to help support the James Beard Foundation’s myriad initiatives. Read on to see a standout main dish from each of the 10 cities that were lucky enough to host a “Night of Culinary Stars” this year.