The James Beard Foundation Kicked Off Its 3rd Annual Taste America 10-City Culinary Tour

The James Beard Foundation is hitting the road. The national nonprofit culinary organization kicked off its third annual Taste America series (in an exclusive digital media sponsorship with The Daily Meal) on August 4 at the James Beard House.

Taste America, hosted this year by New Orleans-based chef John Besh (Domenica, Johnny Sánchez), will bring celebrity and award-winning chefs to 10 different cities around the country. Each chef is paired with a city and a renowned chef in that city to create an unforgettable dinner series that highlights local cuisine, flavors, and ingredients. New cities this year include New Orleans and Minneapolis, with other stops in Boston, Charleston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Seattle.

The James Beard Foundation Taste America Kickoff (Slideshow)

"We know that James Beard himself would have been thrilled that we're celebrating local flavors from coast to coast," said Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation. "People want to not only experience a city's unique culture, but they also want to get a taste of America, and that's what inspired this Taste America tour."

The participating chefs are Rocco DiSpirito (TV personality and cookbook author); Tyler Florence (Food Network host, cookbook author, and owner of Wayfare Tavern); April Bloomfield (The Spotted Pig and The Breslin), Tony Mantuano (Spiaggia); Michel Nischan (CEO of the Wholesome Wave Foundation); Art Smith (Top Chef master and chef at LYFE Kitchen); Jonathan Waxman (Barbuto and Adele's); Mark Ladner (executive chef at Del Posto); and Hugh Acheson (Top Chef judge and All Star, chef at Five & Ten).

The kickoff event this week in New York City was catered by chef Alon Shaya (executive chef at Domenica), who will also lend his culinary talents to the New Orleans leg of the Taste America series on October 9 and 10. He served modern twists on Creole- and Southern-inspired appetizers and desserts, like short ribs tagine with couscous and black tea syrup and foie gras on challah bread with carob molasses.

The celebration of American cuisine kicks off in Miami on September 18 and 19 with Rocco DiSpirito, who will be paired up with chef Christopher Lee at The Forge and pastry chef Sergio Navarro of the Pubbelly restaurant group.

"Miami is a fun place, and every chef stops in Miami," DiSpirito told The Daily Meal, speaking about his own participation "To me, American food is this giant, unexpected grand prize that a chef my age didn't know was going to happen."

You can buy your tickets to the Taste America events here.

The James Beard House Kitchen

Alon Shaya (second from the right) and his team preparing the evening's offerings for the kickoff event.

Fresh Figs

Fresh figs were used in the short rib tagine dish.