Australia Takes Over the James Beard House
This past Friday, the James Beard House was taken over by award-winning Australian chef Alla Wolf-Tasker and her talented crew of cooks, who were in New York City to spread the word about the fabulous food you’ll find Down Under. Chef Wolf-Tasker helms the kitchen at Lake House, a 6-acre lakeside retreat in Daylesford, Victoria (about 80 miles northwest of Melbourne), where she develops seasonal menus using locally sourced goods, including exotic, unsung proteins like Skipton eels and, you guessed it, kangaroo.
Joining Wolf-Tasker were representatives from prestigious Aussie wineries showcasing their wares, including the liquid tribute to go-getter women, Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Riesling fromFowles Wines of Strathbogie Ranges, and an unexpected carbonated creation, Shingleback “Black Bubbles” Sparkling Shirazfrom the McLaren Vale region. These libations provided the perfect counterbalance to Wolf-Tasker’s whimsical plates, such as freshwater trout with buckwheat vinaigrette and fennel, smoked eel wrapped in pancetta with beet remoulade and horseradish, and butter-poached pheasant with foraged mushrooms and black truffles. As if the flavor profiles and textures weren’t pleasing enough, each of Wolf-Tasker’s masterpiece presentations caused each forkful to feel like the desecration of a da Vinci.
One of my favorite bites of the day was an hors d’oeuvre composed of kangaroo tartare atop an eye-popping fuchsia-colored crisp (dyed with beet extract) with a whole fresh basil leaf and a dash of Australian tomato chutney. The raw protein was a deep maroon and less gamey than I expected, and could have passed for high-quality beef if it wasn’t announced as was marsupial meat. The chutney was similar to steak sauce, so it had a vinegar/black pepper kick with a touch of sweetness, and minced onion added a savory element to go with the refreshing flavor of the herb.
And then there was the sweet finale: a luscious mélange of buttermilk custard, caramel, and honey studded with oatmeal and topped with nickel-thin slices of late-harvest apples (which had pink patches within their beige flesh). Also joining the parfait party were two spongy, doughy morsels that served as edible mini-mops once you got down to the bottom of the martini glass. Matched with Yalumba Tawny Port, an ambrosial, amber-hued dessert wine, the final course was as exquisite as you’d expect from the James Beard House.
This beautiful homage to the cuisine of Wolf-Tasker’s homeland is in preparation for the 2014 Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, running Feb. 28 through March 16. The festival, which has existed since 1993, will take on the theme of "water" this year, featuring a floating barge bar anchored to Queensbridge Square and an open kitchen manned by a diverse local collective of chefs. The bar will have the Yarra River rolling and will feature bespoke cocktails highlighting the three phases of water and the bounty of fresh produce in Victoria; the kitchen will put out plates that demonstrate an array of water-centric techniques and represent how cuisines across the globe are formatted to fit into the Australian culinary landscape and identity.
Tickets for the festival and its special events go on sale Dec. 3, and The Daily Meal will be covering more related to it as it draws nearer. For now, you can see the full event program on its website.
Classic Cookbooks: The James Beard Cookbook
The James Beard Cookbook is probably the best-known work of the Dean of American Cookery (later Gastronomy), but it is not, according to his most recent biographer John Birdsall, his best. That honor would go to Delights And Prejudices , Beard’s 1964 memoir—not of things that happened to him, but things he ate. That book begins:
When Proust recollected the precise taste sensation of the little scalloped madeleine cakes served at tea by his aunt, it led him into his monumental remembrance of things past. When I recollect the taste sensations of my childhood, they lead me to more cakes, more tastes: the great razor clams, the succulent Dungeness crab, the salmon, crawfish, mussels, and trout of the Oregon coast the black bottom pie served in a famous Portland restaurant the Welsh rabbit of our Chinese cook the white asparagus my mother canned and the array of good dishes prepared by both of them in that most memorable of kitchens.
Delights And Prejudices is the sort of book that makes you hungry. Even as a small boy in Portland, Oregon, James Beard knew what good food was, and both his mother and the Chinese cook, Jue Let, made sure he had plenty of it. The book contains recipes, but they’re the old-fashioned kind, written out in paragraph form with the understanding that the person reading them already has a basic idea of how to cook. And there’s a sense that—although Beard claims his taste memory is pure and uninfluenced by sentimentality—the food Beard ate as a child cannot be precisely recreated. Elizabeth Beard and Let were both skilled professionals—before James was born, they had run a hotel kitchen together—and while they lacked modern cooking equipment, they had the benefit of the freshest and best ingredients, the sort that probably weren’t widely available to most Americans by the ’60s. (And maybe not in the early 1900s, either, unless you were a professional cook with connections and the clout to demand the very best white asparagus from the vegetable seller and the knowledge to protect yourself from being duped.)
The James Beard of Delights And Prejudices is a sensualist. The James Beard Cookbook, on the other hand, is the work of the Dean of American Cookery himself, a comprehensive cookbook akin to Fannie Farmer (which he loved) or Joy Of Cooking (which he did not). This book begins with a recipe. for boiling water.
This is what you do: Fill a saucepan with cold water and put it on the stove. Adjust the burner to high. Let the water heat until it bubbles and surges—and that is boiling water.
The James Beard Cookbook, as Beard explains in the introduction, is a book for two types of people: those who literally do not know how to boil water and those who know the basics, but not how to make anything that tastes good. But fear not: Uncle James is here to help! “I assure you in all seriousness that many of the recipes in this book are not much more complicated than these instructions on how to boil water.” (My grandmother, the original owner of my copy of The James Beard Cookbook, fell into the second category. I rescued the book from her house after she died, along with her copy of Mastering The Art Of French Cooking, Vol. 1. Both books were pristine. I don’t think she ever used them. I imagine that, when she bought the books around 1970, she was preparing for life as an empty-nester, and thought she would take up cooking. Instead, she and my grandfather became world travelers.)
The picture on the cover of my copy, the 1970 revised edition, shows an enormous jolly bald man in a plaid shirt and striped apron laughing with joy as he stands at a table outdoors stuffing an enormous fish: the Santa Claus (sans beard) of American Cookery. This is clearly a man who loves his food and knows how to prepare it. You are in good hands. The headnotes are brisk and informative and don’t get much more personal than this one for Braised Beef, Bordeaux Fashion: “This is a peasant dish from the Bordeaux region in France, and I first ate it there with the local pickers during grape harvest time.” And then to business.
Beard’s original goal as a food writer was to teach Americans how to appreciate the French bourgeois cuisine that he loved, which he did by writing recipes for boeuf bourguignon or pot au feu and giving them less-intimidating American names. His true genius, however, was the realization that American food could have its own terroir: it could capture the spirit of French food without slavishly following the recipes. Instead, American cooks should imitate the habits of the best French cooks or his mother and Let: they should use the best local ingredients they can find and let that guide their preparations. He makes that point quite clear at the outset of The James Beard Cookbook: “Buy good food, and buy often.”
This was somewhat radical advice in 1959 when The James Beard Cookbook first appeared. (Knowing its audience, the publisher, Dell, first issued it as a cheap paperback and then, a year later, reissued it in hardcover for more serious cooks, or maybe those who had worn out their paperbacks.) Americans were still in the thrall of canned and frozen convenience foods, and Beard wanted to rescue them from the tyranny of the TV dinner. He doesn’t come out and say so in The James Beard Cookbook, of course—why risk alienating your readers?—but his recipes call for fresh meat and vegetables and he makes a point of demystifying kitchen processes, like chopping and poaching and making a French-style omelette (although he includes two other, simpler preparations for the less confident cooks). For this reason, The James Beard Cookbook has aged extremely well you could still give it to a novice cook today, especially if they’re interested in Western European-style food, and they should feel confident enough to make a meal from it, even Braised Beef, Bordeaux Fashion.
But there is very little of James Beard, the human being, in The James Beard Cookbook. There’s more of him in Delights And Prejudices, but, as John Birdsall argues in his own wonderful biography, The Man Who Ate Too Much: The Life Of James Beard , the Beard persona had already been well-established by 1964. This was, in part, because it took a village to write a book by “James Beard,” populated by editors, typists, and coauthors, including Isabel Callvert, who gets credit on the title page of The James Beard Cookbook, who all worked together to tame his meanderings into standard, authoritative prose. Beard was also a notorious thief of other people’s recipes he claimed it was compensation for helping them along in the food world, but he never bothered to warn them in advance.
The other reason there’s so little James Beard in “James Beard,” though, Birdsall writes, is because Beard, like many queer people in the first half of the 20th century, was deeply closeted. That he was gay was an open secret to his friends—many of whom were queer themselves—and in the food world at large, but to his fans he was just their bachelor uncle. (In fact, Beard lived with the architect Gino Cofacci for the last 30 years of his life Cofacci, Birdsall writes, was probably the first person with whom Beard had ever been truly in love, but the relationship, of course, remained a secret.) Beard had learned the consequences of being a gay man in America early: he had been expelled from Reed College in 1921 after he was overheard hooking up with a male professor in his dorm room. After his early dreams of acting died and he drifted into party-planning and catering and then, finally, cookbook writing and teaching, his editors encouraged him to hide his natural gossipy, campy personality behind the authoritative “Dean of American Cookery.” Beard’s dream was to write a chatty, personal cookbook that relied on taste memory rather than instruction, something like The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book (another queer icon!), but the closest he ever got was Delights And Prejudices.
The house on West 10th Street in Greenwich Village where Beard was living in 1969 was within shouting distance of the Stonewall Inn—Birdsall found evidence that Beard was at home the night of the uprising on June 28—but Beard was 66 years old by then and, Birdsall writes, “shame and fear were not things people of James’s generation could fling away so easily, like pennies at cops. James had become a master at inventing myths about himself: He needed to.”
It took Birdsall seven years to write The Man Who Ate Too Much. He had access to Beard’s manuscripts and letters to friends and the datebooks where he recorded what he ate, and he was able to interview several people who knew him well, including gay men he mentored. All of his helped dispel some of the myths Beard created about himself. But before Beard died in 1985, he’d requested that his personal effects, particularly those that provided definite proof of his queer identity, be destroyed.
Now James Beard is an icon, literally: his image appears on anything stamped with the imprimatur of the James Beard Foundation. His house on West 12th Street is a temple to American gastronomy, or at least to the people who have given themselves the authority to determine what American gastronomy is and who does it best. It dwarfs his books and anything else that hints that the Dean of American Cookery was once an actual human being. Birdsall comes as close as anyone to reviving him. But much of James Beard himself remains unknowable. Some myths will be enshrined as truth, and some truths will remain a mystery.
Wonderful! I knew when it was a James Beard receipe with great ratings I was on to something, but was unprepared for the yum factor. I soaked the raisins in a vanilla cognac (navan) and used challah bread. So easy! Rave reviews from our guests last night.
I made this for a meeting for 8 people and people raved. It was so warm, comforting, sweet-but-not-too- sweet, just right for a January night in Minnesota. I used cognac to soak the raisins and I threw in a few dried cherries I used challah bread, which was really wonderful, and i left the crusts in tact I cut the bread into chunks, which was nice I sprinkled a tablespoon or two of cinnamon and sugar over the top before baking I added a couple tablespoons of cognac into the batter I served with cognac whip cream. A real winning recipe.
i made this recipe for my brother because he is going off to college, and it turned out great! i doubled the sugar and added cinnamon and it tasted great. my family loved it.
I soaked raisins in Amaretto and then added some of the liquid to the egg mixture before straining it. Everyone loved it and requested I make it again. I used French bread that was made earlier that day. I also melted the butter first then dipped each piece in to cover well.
Pass the Lipitor. But this was to die for! Just make sure you use a souffle dish (what the heck is a "pudding dish"?) because it will rise and bubble over a regular, 2 inch deep baking dish. Served with slightly sweetened whipped cream, it was a hit at my dinner party. Even those who "don't do dessert" could not resist.
Found this recipe really easy and pretty good - I used a bread that seemed a bit too salty for the recipe though. Next time will try with an egg bread.
I make this dessert every six months or so, usually for holidays. One time, I had only a pint of 1/2 and 1/2 and it came out dense, rich and yummy. Both ways it is great!
Fabulous dessert. Had this on my dessert buffet table for a party and it became the topic of conversation. I went further than serving it with cream and made a vanilla custard sauce as a topping. This dish took center stage.
I looked at a couple of these recipes before deciding on this one. And I'm sooooooo glad I did :-) I used panettone instead of the bread and soaked the fruit in Muscat overnight. Decadence!! I have been hounded by my friends ever since to make it again. But they will have to wait for Christmas :-) Excellent.
Classic,simple, traditional bread pudding. My two-year-old and I made it for Daddy while I took a phone call. Subistituted Wonder Bread, no raisins, doubled the sugar and used 2% milk. It reminded us so much of baked french toast that we had it as a decadent Saturday morning breakfast with a tiny drop of syrup and warm milk.
It's a good thing I only made a half-recipe, or Iɽ have eaten the whole thing! Delicious. I liked the amount of sugar in the recipe - just sweet enough. Substituted dried cranberries, soaked in peach brandy and sherry. Also added the soaking liquid to the milk mixture, as someone else suggested.
I finally tried this, after reading the recipe many times. What a great dessert! And easy, too. I didn't have cognac, so soaked the raisins in some amaretto, which I then added to the custard. Based on other reviews, I upped the sugar to 2/3 cup, and the result was sublime. My "I don't really like dessert" husband ate large servings. This will definitely reappear at our house.
Great and easy! Next time I will double the sugar. The family loved it!
I was almost out of raisins, so I added chunks of apple. No brandy, so they got soaked in peach schnapps. Then I mis-set the microwave, so the butter melted - to which I added a little more peach schnapps and brushed it on to both sides of the bread - and added the liqueur in which the fruit had soaked to the cream. Too bad I can't give this 5 forks - it was the best I've ever had! Next time I'm trying it with grand marnier!
This is absolutely the moistest, sinfully delicious bread pudding I have ever eaten. This is worth breaking your diet for! Bread pudding lovers should try this one!
Potato Gnocchi Recipe
I’m lucky to be attending the James Beard Awards this year, and the gala reception that follows. I’ll be sure to come back with lots of pics and stories to share! (If you want to join me, the James Beard Awards will take place next Monday, May 9th, at Lincoln Center&rsquos Avery Fisher Hall. To buy tickets, go to www.jbfawards.com.)
Meanwhile, as the excitement grows, I thought we’d continue with our Q&A by finding out what the FC contributor nominees eat when no one’s looking. . .
Christina Tosi: Eating dessert in bed while watching a good movie
Bruce Weinstein: A box of cocoa krispies, a quart of milk, and a mixing bowl
Mark Scarbrough: Oreos, bananas, and milk
Colman Andrews: Artificially-flavored potato chips (barbecue, jalapeño, cheddar-and-chive, etc.)
Eric Ripert: I don&rsquot feel guilty about the things I eat… but I do love dark chocolate as a three o’clock snack
|Christina Tosi: Strawberries and Corn-Cream Layer Cake with White Chocolate Cap&rsquon Crunch Crumbs||Bruce Weinstein, Mark Scarbrough: Seared Scallops with Cauliflower, Brown Butter, and Basil|
&mdashChristina Tosi began her career in the kitchens of NYC restaurants Bouley and wd-50. She’s now the pastry chef and co-owner of Manhattan’s Momfuku Milk Bar. Her amazing Strawberries and Corn-Cream Layer Cake was recently featured in our Classic/Classic Update series. She’s nominated for the Rising Star Chef of the Year award.
&mdashBruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough write and develop recipes for magazines, newspapers, and the web. They have cowritten more than 15 cookbooks, including Ham: An Obsession with the Hindquarter, which is nominated for a Single Subject Book award this year.
|Colman Andrews: French Apple Pie||Eric Ripert: Roasted Chicken with Za’atar Stuffing|
&mdashColman Andrews was the co-founder of Saveur and its editor in chief from 2002 to 2006. He has already won 8 James Beard Awards and is the author of five books on food. The recipes above come from his book The Country Cooking of Ireland. Currently, he is the editorial director of TheDailyMeal.com. This year, he is nominated for the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award for a Departures story called “Everything Comes from the Sea.”
&mdashEric Ripert is the executive chef anc co-owner of Le Bernardin in New York City, and the chair of City Harvest’s Food Council. He has co-written three cookbooks, and stars in his own PBS television series, Avec Eric (also a cookbook). He’s nominated for an Audio Webcast or Radio Show award for co-hosting a Martha Stewart Living Radio show with Anthony Bourdain, called Turn and Burn.
Top Dallas Chef Brings Her Masa Madness to James Beard House — and a Woodlands Chef Also Makes the Exclusive Cut
Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman is headed to The James Beard House. (Photo by Kevin Maple)
Tris chef Austin Simmons at work
Satsuma and Yuzu tuna aguachile, with avocado-serrano puree and tart gooseberry at Jose.
Chef Austin Simmons' shortribs with octopus.
An elaborate coconut mango red snapper ceviche at Jose Restaurant.
Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman, serves as executive chef at José in Dallas.
Her platings are both colorful and artistic.
A nastacia Quiñones-Pittman serves as executive chef at Jose in Dallas. She got a big invite recently. Quiñones-Pittman is slated to prepare a modern Mexican feast when she takes the center stage March 13 at The James Beard House in New York City.
Her meal will be a part of this year’s Dinners at James Beard House. The chef, who goes by “AQ” locally, is only one of two Texas-based chefs who have received the call so far in 2020. The other being Austin Simmons of Tris restaurant, which is located in The Woodlands. Simmons will serve his “Heart of Texas” menu on March 31.
If the chef’s hyphenated last name, “Pittman” sounds familiar. . . she is not the only famous Chef Pittman in Dallas. Her husband Daniel Pittman was the founding chef and former co-owner of LUCK (Local Urban Craft Kitchen) in Dallas. The couple have been married a little over a year.
“I’ve been at Jose since December 2018,” Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman tells PaperCity Dallas.
“It’s beyond exciting and overwhelming to be cooking at the James Beard House again. I first attended while working at Komali with Chef Abraham Salum. This time, I will be creating my own menu with my crew. It’s an honor I can’t even begin to describe.”
Jose, is described as a “Guadalajaran inspired restaurant. . . serving contemporary Mexican-inspired cuisine, with a focus on Jalisco style dishes.”
When you hear Jalisco ― think coastal, because the Mexican state of Jalisco is most famous for its beaches like Puerto Vallarta, along with its interior city of Guadalajara. So, seasonal ceviches and fresh fish feature prominently on the menu at Jose, along with plenty of fresh tortillas and tequila.
The restaurant’s bar serves The Squozen, which is touted as “Dallas’ first freshly-squeezed lime juice frozen margarita with super-premium tequila.”
Jose is named after José Noé Suro, who is known as the “Ceramics King” of Mexico. Chef AQ’s impeccably designed plates take inspiration from Suor’s hand-painted tiles, plates, light fixtures and furniture, which embellish the restaurant.
In March, she’ll take her colorful and seasonal Mexican dishes on the road to delight The James Beard House as well. “It will be centered around Masa. Whether it is mole or tortillas, each dish will have some form of corn flour or masa in it,” Quiñones-Pittman says.
Her just revealed menu is titled “Masa Madness.” Her hors d’oeuvre presentations will include: miniature chorizo–potato gorditas with habanero crema, corn esquites, oysters with michelada granité and chicken potato flautitas with salsa macha.
The five course dinner will feature:
— Primero ― Aguachile de fresa with strawberry–riesling Hawaiian kanpachi, elderflower, red jalapeño and black pepper–corn tuille.
— Segundo ― Taco de pancita with Heritage Farms pork belly, salsa macha, orange supreme, serrano chiles and coffee tortilla.
— Tercero ― Salmon con mole de vegetales with poached Skuna Bay salmon, green vegetable mole, pea tendrils and chorizo powder.
— Quarto ― Birria de Res with beef short rib birria, cilantro, Cambray onions and tortillas ceremonials.
— Quinto ― Mango panna cotta with Hoja Santa meringue, corn sponge cake, carrot mole caramel and olive oil dust.
“We are all looking forward to being in New York together representing Dallas and Jose,” Quiñones-Pittman says. “I am very proud of this team and I can’t wait to create some beautiful dishes together.”
For more on Austin Simmons — who is also cooking at The James Beard House — read PaperCity’s exclusive profile.
A Deeper, Darker Look at James Beard, Food Oracle and Gay Man
A new biography traces the influence he wielded as a writer and the pain he endured for his sexuality in an unwelcoming world.
Fifty years ago, this is how the foremost American food authority described his favorite menu for a holiday open house:
“I put out a big board of various slicing sausages — salami, Polish sausage, whatever I find in the market that looks good — and an assortment of mustards. I also like to have another board of cheeses: Swiss Gruyère, a fine Cheddar and maybe a Brie. And with the cheeses, I serve thinly sliced rye bread and crackers of some kind and a bowl of fruit.”
In other words: James Beard, who died in 1985 at age 81, was a master of the charcuterie board long before it became a staple on Instagram and Pinterest — and even before those platforms’ founders were born.
Discovering seeds of the present in the past happens again and again when revisiting Beard’s body of work, which I did this fall in anticipation of the first new biography of him in 30 years: “The Man Who Ate Too Much,” by John Birdsall, published in October by W.W. Norton. For the first time, Mr. Birdsall brings both scholarly research and a queer lens to Beard’s life, braiding the strands of privilege and pain, performance and anxiety, into an entirely new story.
“Beard is a very complicated and in some ways a messy figure,” said Mr. Birdsall, a writer and former chef whose work focuses on queer influence in American food and homophobia in the culinary world. “I wanted to understand that — the personality or psychology of somebody who had a huge impact on American cultural life, yet lived with such fear of being exposed.”
Not many home cooks use Beard’s recipes today, and very little of his enormous, influential body of work is online. But when I was growing up, Julia Child and James Beard were the twin gods of our household, like an extra set of grandparents whom my food-mad parents consulted and compared daily. It seemed entirely logical to me that when we drove north of the city, we passed highway signs for James Beard State Park. (My adult self now knows that it’s James Baird State Park, named for a local tycoon who donated the land.)
Child and her book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” were the source of dinner-party menus, but Beard was the sage who governed everyday food like potpie and potato salad, bean soup and cornbread with his 1972 masterwork, “American Cookery.”
Today, Beard’s definition of American cooking is complicated by questions about his authority, identity and privilege. Nevertheless, the book stands as a chronicle of the nation’s food for the arc of the 20th century.
It is still astonishingly fresh in many ways.
“Along with the growth of organic gardening and the health foods cult, there is a renewed interest in food from the wilds,” begins the book’s chapter on vegetables. Unlike “Joy of Cooking” and the “Betty Crocker Cookbook,” other kitchen bibles of the time, “American Cookery” rarely calls for frozen vegetables, canned fruit, cake mix or similar convenience foods.
Many of Beard’s recipe lists read like a modern Brooklyn bistro menu, with items like sunchokes and sliders, scallion tart and roasted figs with prosciutto. Many others reflect the relatively broad view that he took of American cooking: ceviche, Syrian lentil soup with Swiss chard, menudo and basil pesto — a radically raw and shockingly flavorful sauce at the time.
The food of the United States wasn’t then considered a true cuisine, like that of France, China, Japan or Italy, where culinary traditions were built over centuries. But the American melting pot had been combining ingredients through generations of immigration. And in the counterculture of the 1970s, the idea of the global palate was filtering into the mainstream, sweeping Chinese cooking classes, Indian spice blends, Japanese pottery and Moroccan tagines into U.S. kitchens.
Often, those ideas arrived through white male gatekeepers like Beard, the New York Times food editor Craig Claiborne and the members of the Wine and Food Society of New York, a group then dominated by wealthy gay men.
All chefs who now describe their food as “new American” owe something to Beard, though most know him only as the face stamped on the culinary medals bestowed annually by the foundation named for him. Following his death, the organization was started as a way to preserve his legacy and his Greenwich Village townhouse. After a halting start and a 2004 embezzlement scandal that resulted in a prison term for the group’s president, the foundation has grown along with the power of its awards, as restaurants and chefs have become ever more important elements of popular culture.
But most chefs, and others who have known Beard through his countless books, columns and television appearances (which began in 1946), have had no idea of what Mr. Birdsall calls the “messy” parts of his story.
There are sad, messy parts: the childhood ridicule Beard suffered because of his size, the expulsion from college because of a single sex act, the anxiety he lived with as a gay celebrity when coming out was unthinkable.
And there are troubling, messy parts: plagiarizing and taking credit for other people’s recipes, accepting paid endorsements for products that he did not always believe in, and exposing himself to and fondling young men who hoped for his professional support.
What to Cook This Weekend
Sam Sifton has menu suggestions for the weekend. There are thousands of ideas for what to cook waiting for you on New York Times Cooking.
- Gabrielle Hamilton’s ranchero sauce is great for huevos rancheros, or poach shrimp or cubed swordfish in it.
- If you’re planning to grill, consider grilled chicken skewers with tarragon and yogurt. Also this grilled eggplant salad.
- Or how about a simple hot-dog party, with toppings and condiments galore?
- These are good days to make a simple strawberry tart, the blueberry cobbler from Chez Panisse, or apricot bread pudding.
- If you have some morels, try this shockingly good pan-roasted chicken in cream sauce from the chef Angie Mar.
“Delights and Prejudices,” Beard’s 1964 “memoir with recipes,” paints a nostalgic picture of a nearly preindustrial childhood among the wealthy class of Portland, Ore. In Beard’s telling, it was happy, glamorous and shot through with glowing food moments: wild salmon and huckleberries at the family’s house at Gearhart Beach fresh abalone, white asparagus and crab legs in San Francisco dining rooms foie gras and Dungeness crab aboard the luxury vessels that ran between Portland and Los Angeles.
But Mr. Birdsall’s research, including extensive interviews with Beard’s contemporaries, revealed shadows that Beard never mentioned.
Born in 1903, Beard was an only child raised mostly by his mother, Elizabeth Beard, who was famous for her cooking at the elegant boardinghouse she ran, the Gladstone, in the days of oyster patties, roast pheasant and charlotte russe. The person who did most of the actual kitchen work was Jue Let, a masterly cook from Guangdong who worked at the Gladstone and then in the Beard family home for more than a decade.
He fed James congee, steamed salt fish and lychees — and satisfied the boy’s exacting mother by flawlessly executing her formulas for chicken stock, pie crusts and dry-aged meat. She and Mr. Let instilled in Beard the culinary ethos of fresh and seasonal ingredients, carefully cooked, that became Beard’s contribution to the American food revolution of the 1970s.
In Beard’s memory, “Mother” made all the rules: only certain strains of fruit, like Marshall strawberries, were “allowed into the house” she “would not dream” of using canned vegetables venison “wasn’t worth the trouble,” and so on. The willingness to be opinionated that he learned from her helped him become one of the great food voices of his century.
But in Mr. Birdsall’s empathetic telling, it also meant that Beard’s mother never concealed her impatience with him, his childhood needs and his growing differences.
In most of Beard’s writing, “he’s still pushing the story of grand, happy boyhood holidays,” Mr. Birdsall said. But at the glorious duck dinners and mince pie feasts that Beard describes, he was usually the sole child present his father, who avoided his mother’s racy friends, was often absent, and Beard learned to perform for the crowd, as he felt compelled to for the rest of his life. “I soon became as precocious and nasty a child as ever inhabited Portland,” he wrote in his memoir.
There seems to have never been a time when Beard was comfortable in his own skin.
According to Mr. Birdsall, who gained access to many of Beard’s unpublished writings, he knew he was gay from a very young age. The first public airing of his gay identity was traumatic: In his freshman year at Reed College, he was caught by his roommates in a sexual encounter with a professor, and summarily expelled — a double humiliation that he never entirely recovered from.
Being expelled from Reed meant effectively being banished from home — albeit with a wide socio-economic safety net. He sailed for Europe, discovered the gay underground in London and Paris, moved to New York and began his food career in the 1930s, catering parties thrown by Manhattan’s gay and art-world elites.
Even as he became confident and successful, Beard always carried shame about his size 6 feet 3 inches tall, he often weighed more than 350 pounds in adulthood. For the last 30 years of his life, his legs had to be kept tightly wrapped in bandages and compression stockings because of chronic edema and varicose veins. And, according to Mr. Birdsall’s research, Beard had a lifelong condition called phimosis — a too-tight foreskin that makes erections extremely painful — that made Beard’s feelings about sex and his body even more complicated. (It is now commonly treated in childhood.)
And so, though he had many friends in the food world (and enemies, especially those whose recipes he lifted), Beard had just a few intimate partners over the course of his life. It wasn’t until the 1970s, when he settled into fame and some wealth, that he achieved the stability that allowed him to buy a townhouse in Greenwich Village with his partner, Gino Cofacci, and come into his own as a host.
“I had never seen anything like the conviviality and the cooking and the eating that would go on there,” said the chef Andrew Zimmern, who went to Beard’s legendary Christmas and Sunday open houses as a boy. “There was a whole fabulous gay food mafia living downtown.”
Mr. Zimmern’s father, a successful advertising executive, came out as gay and moved to Greenwich Village with his partner in the late 1960s.
Mr. Zimmern said he loved the chaotic generosity: whole salmon poaching in a copper pot on the industrial stove, giant platters of charcuterie and cheese, piles of ingredients and bowls of fruit everywhere, and Beard presiding over all of it — tasting, carving, slicing, roaring and going through multiple changes of silk pajamas. He also remembers encountering tastes there for the first time, like a braise of chicken with olives, almonds and raisins, a dish with roots in Spain and California that Beard made often.
But mainly, he said, he remembers the feeling of being free. “There were so many places that my dads were uncomfortable, on their guard, even though we went to restaurants all the time,” Mr. Zimmern said.
He now credits Beard’s hospitality for his own early culinary aspirations. “To see them eating together, shoulders relaxed and happy, meant everything to me,” he said. “I saw what food can do for a person’s heart.”
Jody Adams is a James Beard award-winning chef with a national reputation for her imaginative use of New England ingredients in regional Italian cuisine. Her four-star Rialto restaurant in Cambridge has been named “One of the top 20 new restaurants in the country” by Esquire magazine and “One of the world’s best hotel restaurants” by Gourmet. Beginning her culinary career as a line cook at Seasons restaurant, she went on to open Hamersley’s Bistro as sous-chef and then served as executive chef at Michela’s in Cambridge, where Food & Wine listed her as “one of America’s ten best new chefs.” Soon thereafter, Adams opened Rialto in Harvard Square, collecting many honors as a result, including being inducted into the Nation’s Restaurant News Fine Dining Hall of Fame. Adams has been featured in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Bon Appetit, among many others. She also has a strong commitment to hunger relief and is known for her loyal support of The Greater Boston Food Bank, Share Our Strength, and Partners in Health.
Curtis Stone (curtisstone.com) is an internationally known chef, TV host, entrepreneur and New York Times bestselling author. His philosophy to cook as Mother Nature intended inspires Curtis to keep his recipes simple, using local, seasonal and organic ingredients and allowing the food to speak for itself. Curtis is recognized around the globe for his ability to help home cooks find confidence in the kitchen with delicious, doable recipes and easy cooking techniques.
Born in Melbourne, Australia, Curtis first found his passion for food whilst watching his grandmother make her legendary fudge and his mother roast her perfect pork crackling. He quickly learnt to appreciate the beauty of creating -- and eating -- homemade food and cherished the way it brought people together. That early lesson would ultimately become Curtis' ethos and the foundation of his culinary career.
After finishing culinary school, he took a job cooking at the Savoy Hotel in Melbourne before heading to London, where he honed his skills under legendary three-star Michelin genius, Marco Pierre White, at Café Royal, Mirabelle. and the highly revered Quo Vadis.
Curtis opened a multi-functional culinary headquarters in Beverly Hills in January 2014, featuring a test kitchen and his dream, little restaurant, Maude (mauderestaurant.com).
While living in London, Curtis appeared in several UK cooking shows before catching the eye of television producers in Australia. At the age of 27, he became the star of a new cooking series called Surfing the Menu. It was an international hit that led to his first American show, TLC’s Take Home Chef in 2006 -- the same year the blondhaired, blue-eyed young gun was named one of People magazine's Sexiest Men Alive. Curtis broke into US primetime network television with appearances on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice, America's Next Great Restaurant and The Biggest Loser. In 2012, Curtis co-hosted Bravo’s Around the World in 80 Plates and reprised his role as host of the network's popular culinary competition Top Chef Masters, which returned for a fifth season in 2013. In addition to this, Curtis is host of the new edition of the Top Chef franchise, Top Chef Duels, scheduled to air this summer. As a frequent guest since ABC’s The Chew's launch in September 2011, Curtis officially joined the ensemble cast as a regular guest co-host in November 2013.
As the author of five cookbooks, Curtis has shared his culinary know-how with readers around the globe. Surfing the Menu and Surfing the Menu Again (ABC Books 2004, 2005), penned with his friend and fellow Aussie chef Ben O’Donoghue, were followed by Cooking with Curtis (Pavilion 2005), a solo effort that celebrated seasonal fare and brought his chef's expertise down-to-earth for the home cook. Setting out to prove that good food doesn't need to be fussy, Curtis then released Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone: Recipes to Put You in My Favorite Mood (Clarkson Potter 2009).
Curtis launched his fifth cookbook, a New York Times best-seller: What's For Dinner?: Recipes for a Busy Life in April 2013 (Ballantine). His sixth cookbook is set for release in April 2015. Curtis also contributes to a variety of food and lifestyle magazines. He is a food columnist for the wildly popular O Magazine, contributing on a bimonthly basis. His debut column was published in the October 2013 issue.
Curtis developed Kitchen Solutions, a line of sleek and functional cookware, in 2007 after spending thousands of hours with home cooks in their own kitchens. The goal is to bring confidence to the kitchen with tools that help make cooking inspired and effortless. The first chef to debut an eponymous product line at Williams-Sonoma, Curtis has expanded the range to include close to 250 items, which in addition to Williams-Sonoma are available at HSN, Bloomingdales, Dillard's, Chef's Catalog, Belk and fine specialty retailers throughout the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Singapore and Belgium.
Curtis' restaurant Maude (mauderestaurant.com) is the culmination of all his life and career experiences captured into an intimate setting. Curtis always dreamed of opening his own restaurant so when the perfect space in Beverly Hills became available, he jumped at the chance to make it his own. Curtis' passion project Maude, named after his grandmother, offers a market driven, prix-fixe monthly menu designed to create an intimate chef's table experience for the entire dining room, where every seat is within a comfortable distance to the open kitchen. Each month a single ingredient inspires a menu of nine tasting plates, and this celebrated ingredient is creatively woven, to varying degrees, through each course.
Curtis has fostered long-term relationships with charities around the world, including Feeding America in the US and Cottage by the Sea and Make-A-Wish in Australia. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife, actress Lindsay Price, two-year-old son, Hudson, and golden retriever Sully. In his spare time he enjoys hiking, gardening, surfing -- and cooking. For Curtis, cooking always brings fun. "There really is no better gift than a home-cooked meal and enjoying a good laugh around the table."
Gail Simmons is a trained culinary expert, food writer, and dynamic television personality. Since the show’s inception in 2006, she has lent her extensive expertise as permanent judge on Bravo’s Emmy-winning series Top Chef, currently in its 18th season. She is also the host of the upcoming series Top Chef Amateurs, giving talented home cooks the opportunity of a lifetime to test their skills in the illustrious Top Chef kitchen. A familiar face in the Top Chef franchise, she served as head critic on Top Chef Masters, hosted Top Chef Just Desserts and was a judge on Universal Kids’ Top Chef Jr. Gail hosts Iron Chef Canada and was co-host of The Feed on FYI.
Her first cookbook, Bringing It Home: Favorite Recipes from a Life of Adventurous Eating, was released by Grand Central Publishing in October 2017. Nominated for an IACP award for Best General Cookbook, it features accessible recipes and smart techniques inspired by Gail’s world travels. Gail’s first book, a memoir titled Talking With My Mouth Full, was published by Hyperion in February 2012.
From 2004 to 2019 Gail was Special Projects Director at Food & Wine magazine. During her tenure she wrote a monthly column, helped create the video series #FWCooks and worked closely with the country’s top culinary talent on events and chef-related initiatives, including overseeing the annual F&W Classic in Aspen, America’s premier culinary event. Prior to working at Food & Wine, Gail was the special events manager for Chef Daniel Boulud’s restaurant empire.
Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Gail moved to New York City in 1999 to attend culinary school at what is now the Institute of Culinary Education. She then trained in the kitchens of legendary Le Cirque 2000 and groundbreaking Vong restaurants and worked as the assistant to Vogue's esteemed food critic, Jeffrey Steingarten.
In 2014, Gail and her business partner Samantha Hanks, founded Bumble Pie Productions, an original content company dedicated to discovering and promoting new female voices in the food and lifestyle space. Their first series, Star Plates—a collaboration with Drew Barrymore’s Flower Films and Authentic Entertainment—premiered in Fall 2016 on the Food Network.
In addition, Gail is a weekly contributor to The Dish On Oz and makes frequent appearances on NBC’s TODAY, ABC’s Good Morning America, and the Rachael Ray Show, among others. She has been featured in publications such as People, New York Magazine, Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, GQ, Entertainment Weekly, US Weekly, Los Angeles Times, and was named the #1 Reality TV Judge in America by the New York Post.
In February 2013, Gail was appointed Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Babson College, a mentoring role where she works with student entrepreneurs, helping them develop food-related social enterprises. In April 2016, she received the Award of Excellence by Spoons Across America, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating children about the benefits of healthy eating. She is an active board member and supporter of City Harvest, Hot Bread Kitchen, Common Threads, and the Institute of Culinary Education.
Gail currently lives in New York City with her husband, Jeremy and their children, Dahlia and Kole.
Francis Lam returns to the Critics’ Table for the fifth season of Top Chef Masters. He is Editor-at-Large at Clarkson Potter, and previously, was Features Editor at Gilt Taste, which was awarded six IACP awards and four James Beard award nominations in its first two years. His own writing has been nominated for a James Beard award and three IACP awards, winning one, but he knows all this talk of awards is a little tacky. In past lives, he was a senior writer at Salon.com, a contributing editor at Gourmet magazine (RIP), and his work has appeared in the 2006-2012 editions of Best Food Writing. He believes that, in professional football, that would count as a dynasty in ancient China, not so much. Lam resides in New York City.
James Oseland is thrilled to be returning for his fifth season of Top Chef Masters. He is the editor-in-chief of Saveur, America’s most critically-acclaimed food magazine. Under his editorship, the magazine has won more than more than 40 awards, including numerous James Beard journalism awards, and three from the American Society of Magazine Editors. His 2006 book, Cradle of Flavor, a memoir with recipes about his time living in Southeast Asia, was named one of the best books of that year by Time Asia, The New York Times, and Good Morning America and went on to win awards from the James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals. He is the also the editor of Saveur’s cookbooks, including Saveur: The New Comfort Food, published in 2011, and The Way We Cook. He is on the board of the directors of the American Society of Magazine Editors and is the editor of the forthcoming Lonely Planet writing anthology A Fork In the Road. He is writing Jimmy Neurosis, a memoir of his punk rock youth in the 1970s, for Ecco Press, a Harper Collins imprint. Additionally, he has lectured at the Asia Society, Slow Food Nation, and the Culinary Institute of America’s Worlds of Flavor conference. He was previously an editor at Vogue, Organic Style, Sassy, the Village Voice, and Mademoiselle, and holds degrees in photography and film studies from the San Francisco Art Institute. Born in Mountain View, California, in 1963, James has lived in India and Indonesia and now lives in New York City with his husband, Daniel. His favorite foods are char kuey teow (Malaysian stir-fried rice noodles with shrimp and chile paste) and milk chocolate bars. Though he is very picky about the food he eats, he will consume anything and usually enjoy it very much.
Joining the Critics’ Table for Top Chef Masters Season 5, Lesley Suter oversees all dining and food coverage for Los Angeles magazine. In May 2012, Suter took home a James Beard Award, the first ever awarded for food coverage in a general-interest publication. She has lent her culinary know-how to national publications including Saveur and Conde Nast Traveler and has appeared on a number of television and radio programs, including a recurring guest spot on KCRW’s Good Food. She began her career as an Associate Editor at the music magazine Filter and later served as Editor-In-Chief of the alternative weekly newspaper L.A. Alternative. Suter’s food coverage has garnered national recognition in the form of several National Magazine and James Beard Award nominations. She currently resides in the hilly Los Angeles neighborhood of Glassell Park, where she shares a home with her husband Michael, two troublesome felines, and a backyard fruit and vegetable garden—which, if it weren’t for her neighbor, she’d likely have killed by now.
Ruth Reichl, author of Delicious!, a novel that will be released by Random House in the fall, returns as a critic for Season 5 of Top Chef Masters. She was Editor in Chief of Gourmet magazine from 1999 to 2009. Before that, she was the restaurant critic of both The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, where she was also named food editor. As chef and co-owner of The Swallow Restaurant from 1974 to 1977, she played a part in the culinary revolution that took place in Berkeley, California.
Ms. Reichl began writing about food in 1972, when she published Mmmmm: A Feastiary. Since then, she has authored the best-selling memoirs Tender at the Bone, Comfort Me with Apples, Garlic and Sapphires, and For You Mom, Finally, which have been translated into 20 languages, and The Gourmet Cookbook. She is also the executive producer of Garlic and Sapphires, a Fox 2000 film based on her memoirs to be directed by Paul Feig, and host of Gourmet’s Adventures with Ruth, a 10-episode public television series which began airing in October 2009.
Ms. Reichl has been honored with six James Beard Awards. She holds a B.A. and an M.A. in the History of Art from the University of Michigan and lives in New York City with her husband, Michael Singer, a television news producer.
Current Residency: Frederick, MD
Occupation: Executive Chef/Partner of VOLT, Family Meal, STRFSH, Voltaggio Bros. Steak House, ESTUARY
Two-time runner up Bryan Voltaggio is the only chef who has competed on Top Chef (Season Six: Las Vegas) and Top Chef Masters (Season 5). He is back for Season 17 All Stars LA to prove that he has what it takes to bring home the title. A Maryland native and James Beard Foundation Award finalist, Bryan is the executive chef and owner of VOLT, Family Meal, and has three additional restaurants with his brother Michael including Estuary, Voltaggio Brothers Steak House and STRFSH. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, Bryan was a cook at Aureole where he met his mentor chef Charlie Palmer. He later was a stagier at Pic, a three-star Michelin restaurant in Valence, France, before reuniting as executive chef at Charlie Palmer Steak in Washington, D.C. After working for Charlie Palmer for almost 10 years, he set out on his own opening Volt in 2008, followed by Family Meal in 2012. His latest project, Estuary, opened in March of 2019 and is the third restaurant he opened with his brother Michael. He has also released two cookbooks Home: Recipes to Cook with Family and Friends and VOLT.Ink, the latter which he co-authored with his brother Michael. As a father and chef, Bryan is a passionate philanthropist and has helped raise over one million dollars working with Chefs Cycle and No Kid Hungry to end childhood hunger. He lives with his wife Jennifer and three children in his hometown of Frederick, MD.
Blurring the lines between chef, artist, entrepreneur and inventor, David Burke is one of the leading pioneers in American cooking today. His fascination with ingredients and the art of the meal has fueled a thirty-year career marked by creativity, critical acclaim and the introduction of revolutionary products and cooking techniques. His passion for food and for the restaurant industry shows no signs of slowing down.
Burke graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and soon thereafter traveled to France where he completed several stages with notable chefs such as Pierre Troisgros, Georges Blanc and Gaston Lenôtre. Burke's mastery of French culinary technique was confirmed when, at age 26, he won France's coveted Meilleurs Ouvriers de France Diplome d'Honneur for unparalleled skill and creativity with his native cuisine. Burke returned to the U.S. as a sous chef for Waldy Malouf at La Cremaillere and then for Charlie Palmer at The River Café, where he ascended to executive chef and earned three stars from The New York Times.
In 1992, Burke opened the Park Avenue Café with Smith & Wollensky CEO Alan Stillman, and then, in 1996, he became vice president of culinary development for the Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group. Burke has been honored with Japan's Nippon Award of Excellence, the Robert Mondavi Award of Excellence and the CIA's August Escoffier Award. Nation's Restaurant News named Burke one of the 50 Top R&D Culinarians and Time Out New York honored him as the "Best Culinary Prankster" in 2003. In May 2009, Burke was inducted into the Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America by the James Beard Foundation. In that same month, he also won the distinctive Menu Masters award from Nation's Restaurant News, naming him one of the nation"s most celebrated culinary innovators.
In February 2012, Burke was honored by the culinary school at Johnson & Wales University with the Distinguished Visiting Chef Award, which is given to the world's most influential and celebrated chefs. In November 2012, he was named Restaurateur of the Year by the New Jersey Restaurant Association. In the same month, he was honored with a Concierge Choice Award, celebrating the best in New York City hospitality, winning the best chef award. In 2013, Burke was nominated to "Best Chefs America," a new benchmark in American cooking whereby chefs name the peers who are the most inspiring and impressive in the business. In 2013, the David Burke Group was recognized by Restaurant Hospitality magazine as having one of the "Coolest Multiconcept Companies in the Land." The article highlights restaurant corporations with an enviable business concept that others can't wait to replicate. In addition, it cites the numerous incarnations of Chef Burke's creative vision, from David Burke Townhouse to David Burke Fishtail, from Burke in the Box to David Burke's Primehouse.
Chef Burke's vast talents have been showcased recently on television, including season two of Top Chef Masters, a guest spot on the Every Day with Rachael Ray show and as a mentor to Breckenridge Bourbon distiller Bryan Nolt on Bloomberg's small-business television series The Mentor. In 2013, he returned to season five of Top Chef Masters.
Burke's visibility as a celebrity chef has also led to consultant positions with hotels, cruise lines and food experts. Most recently, he was invited to join the Holland America Line Culinary Council alongside renowned international chefs Jonnie Boer, Marcus Samuelsson, Jacques Torres, Charlie Trotter and Elizabeth Falkner. In this capacity, Burke will consult on the cruise line's culinary initiatives, including the Culinary Arts Center enrichment program, and provide signature recipes which will be featured on all 15 ships. In 2003, Burke teamed up with Donatella Arpaia to open davidburke & donatella (now known as David Burke Townhouse, of which he has sole ownership). In 2005 came David Burke at Bloomingdale's, a dual-concept restaurant offering both a full service Burke Bar Café on one side and a Burke in the Box eat-in concept on the other.
In 2006 Burke opened up David Burke’s Primehouse in The James Hotel Chicago. His restaurant collection continued to grow that same year when he purchased culinary career began under founders Markus and Hubert Peter. His next ventures included David Burke Prime at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut and David Burke Fishtail in Manhattan, both of which opened in 2008. In February 2011, he opened David Burke Kitchen at The James Hotel New York in SoHo, bringing his signature whimsical style to downtown Manhattan.
In 2013, Burke made great strides in expanding his restaurant empire and enhancing his partnerships with other reputable companies. In the summer of 2013, he opened Burke's Bacon Bar in the James Hotel Chicago, a high-end sandwich and "to-go" concept featuring artisan and top-notch bacons from around the country. BBB features Burke's signature "Handwiches" -- palm-sized sandwiches packed with creative combinations of fresh ingredients -- as well as salads and sweets, all featuring bacon, in some form, as an ingredient. In 2014, Burke will bring his SoHo concept, David Burke Kitchen, which features modern takes on farmhouse cuisine, to the ski resort town of Aspen, Colorado.
During his tenure at The River Café, Burke began experimenting with interesting ingredients and cooking techniques. His first culinary innovations, including Pastrami Salmon (now available through Acme Smoked Fist), flavored oils and tuna tartare, revolutionized gastronomic technique. During his 12-year period at the Park Avenue Café, Burke created GourmetPops, ready-to-serve cheesecake lollipops. His Can o' Cake concept, where cake is mixed, baked and eaten from a portable tin, is used throughout his restaurants. Most recently, he teamed with 12NtM to create two non-alcoholic sparkling beverages, available in gourmet retailers such as Whole Foods and at his New York locations. Additionally, Burke is actively involved with culinology, an approach to food that blends the culinary arts and food technology. To that end, he is the chief culinary advisor to the Skinny Eats line of flavor-enhancing produtts.
In 2011, Burke received the ultimate honor presented to inventors: a United States patent. It was awarded to him for the unique process by which he uses pink Himalayan salt to dry-age his steaks. Burke lines the walls of his dry-aging room with brickes of the alt, which imparts a subtle flavor to the beef and renders it incredibly tender. Burke's steaks can be dry-aged for anywhere from 28 to 55, 75, or even as long as 100 days using this process.
Burke's first cookbook, Cooking with David Burke, and his second, David Burke's New American Classics launched in April 2006. He is currently working on his third book, due out in 2015.
A Virtual Reality Tasting Menu Is Being Served at the James Beard House Through January
An Italian artist is using VR headsets to "reframe" the dining experience.
Most dining involves at least some level of "theater"—no, you weren&apost just whisked away to Italy, you just stepped into the Olive Garden! Whether it&aposs the music in the background or the weight of the silverware, science has repeatedly found that the experience surrounding what we eat affects how our food tastes. And now, a virtual reality dining experience at the James Beard House in New York takes that idea to new extremes.
With tickets available through January 31, Aerobanquets RMX is billed as "a virtual and augmented reality art and dining experience in seven bites"—the brainchild of Italian artist Mattia Casalegno, with food courtesy of Chintan Pandya and Roni Mazumdar, the duo behind the highly-lauded Indian restaurants Rahi and Adda (the latter a Food & Wine Best New Restaurant). The hour-long, "mind-altering" mix of VR headsets and a corresponding single-bite tasting menu—narrated by Gail Simmonsuted in the U.S. last month after successful runs in China and South Korea. And for $125 per person, you can try it for yourself.
"We live our lives more and more detached from the physicality of reality—through our phones, we are detaching ourselves from the reality of life… I wanted to work to bring us back to the realness, and eating is one of the most real things you can work with," Casalegno told Washington Post food writer Emily Heil. "Anytime we go to a restaurant, we have some ideas of how we should eat and what the things we are eating will taste like, whether it&aposs meat, fish or vegetables… In our brains, we are already experiencing the taste. I wanted to use virtual reality to reframe the experience—in our brains, we are blanked out and we can start from scratch in a way."
Heil donned a VR headset herself and described the experience as "a Dali-esque landscape, where [diners] encounter food in ways that feel stranger than Alice in Wonderland stumbling across a tea party." The room is dark, the chairs spin, and the vision-covering VR headset means you only see what the artist wants you to see—whether it&aposs your own robot-like hands, dancing forks, or simply an empty abyss.
Mitchell Davis, chief strategy officer for the James Beard Foundation, told the Post that the VR experience is in line with how plenty of other restaurants operate—though instead of Olive Garden, he referenced the world-renowned Spanish eatery El Bulli. "At El Bulli, the technology happens in the kitchen, where hundreds of people worked really hard with science and equipment to change your perceptions of food and how you ate," he explained. "Here, the food is regular food, but all the technology is happening as you get it."
If you&aposre in New York, reservations are available in the afternoon and evening, Thursday to Sunday. Pre-booking is a must and as of this writing, some of the one-hour slots are already sold out. Find more information here.
Update Dec. 13, 2019: A previous version of this article stated that tickets were only available through December 29, 2019. Food & Wine has since been informed event is extended through January 2020.
Recipes From the 2011 James Beard Award Nominees
Recipes From the 2011 James Beard Award Nominees
OUTSTANDING CHEF: Suzanne Goin, Lucques, Los AngelesMoroccan Chicken With Carrot Puree
A mix of spicy, sweet, and bitter flavors gives this dish its distinctive character. See the recipe for Moroccan Chicken With Carrot Puree » Back to Recipes From the 2011 James Beard Award Nominees »
BEST CHEF: MID-ATLANTIC: Maricel Presilla, Cucharamama, Hoboken, NJPadron Peppers with Serrano Ham
The thumb-size pimiento de padr¿n pepper is a specialty of Galicia, Spain. In author Presilla’s interpretation of a classic Spanish preparation, the peppers are stir-fried with garlic and serrano ham to give the peppers an extra-savory flavor. See the recipe for Padron Peppers with Serrano Ham » Back to Recipes From the 2011 James Beard Award Nominees »
OUTSTANDING CHEF: Paul Kahan, Blackbird, ChicagoOz Champagne Cocktail
This cocktail was developed by mixologist Lynn House at Chicago’s Blackbird restaurant. See the recipe for the Oz Champagne Cocktail » Back to Recipes From the 2011 James Beard Award Nominees »
BEST CHEF: SOUTHEAST: Hugh Acheson, Five and Ten, Athens, GAFish Tacos with Roasted Tomato Salsa
The recipe for this dish was inspired by one from Hugh Acheson. See the recipe for Fish Tacos with Roasted Tomato Salsa » Back to Recipes From the 2011 James Beard Award Nominees »
Brown Butter PastaHamilton gave us her recipe for this delicious pasta, which is tossed in brown butter and pine nuts, then topped with sunny-side-up eggs. See the recipe for Brown Butter Pasta »
BEST CHEF: NEW YORK CITY: Craig Koketsu, Park Avenue
Koketsu, who is a big fan of Cheetos, uses the crunchy snack food as a garnish for broccoli served on a sauce made with Gouda and Parmesan cheeses. See the recipe for Broccoli With Cheetos » Back to Recipes From the 2011 James Beard Award Nominees »
BEST CHEF: NEW YORK CITY: Sara Jenkins, PorchettaPasta Alla Norma
Jenkins gave us the recipe for this spicy, comforting pasta dish, inspired by one made by Italian chef Salvatore Denaro. See the recipe for Pasta Alla Norma » Back to Recipes From the 2011 James Beard Award Nominees »
BEST CHEF: PACIFIC: Michael Tusk, Quince, San FranciscoMushroom Sformato
Tusk gave us the recipe for this rich, woodsy version of sformato, a warm and savory Italian custard. See the recipe for Mushroom Sformato » Back to Recipes From the 2011 James Beard Award Nominees »
BEST CHEF: NORTHWEST: Ethan Stowell, Staple & Fancy Mercantile, SeattleMediterranean Mussel and Chickpea Soup with Fennel and Lemon
Of this recipe, which appears in Stowell’s cookbook Ethan Stowell’s New Italian Kitchen, the chef writes: “My wife, Angela, loves mussels, especially the fat, tender Mediterranean mussels you get in summer and early fall. Consequently, we eat a lot of them¿steamed, in salads, with pastas, you name it. Light enough for a summer dish, this terrific soup is also delicious in the winter months made with Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) mussels instead.” See the recipe for Mediterranean Mussel and Chickpea Soup with Fennel and Lemon » Back to Recipes From the 2011 James Beard Award Nominees »
OUTSTANDING RESTAURANT: Blue Hill, New York City
Chef Dan Barber serves this whimsical snack to open meals at his restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns. See the recipe for Sage Potato Chips » Back to Recipes From the 2011 James Beard Award Nominees »
OUTSTANDING CHEF: Stephan Pyles, Stephan Pyles, DallasHeaven and Hell Cake
Pyles’s rich, multilayered dessert of angel food and devil’s food cake, peanut butter mousse, and milk chocolate ganache should be frozen before icing is added and refrigerated before it’s sliced. See the recipe for Heaven and Hell Cake » Back to Recipes From the 2011 James Beard Award Nominees »
OUTSTANDING RESTAURANT: Eleven Madison Park, NYCProvençal Granola
Chef Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park in New York City (whose pastry chef, Angela Pinkerton, was also nominated for a James Beard Award) uses savory granolas like this to add a spicy, herbal crunch to roasted beets or tomato salad. Use it as a substitute for croutons in green salad, too. See the recipe for Provençal Granola » Back to Recipes From the 2011 James Beard Award Nominees »
BEST CHEF: NEW YORK CITY: Michael Anthony, Gramercy TavernKielbasa
These juicy, beefy smoked sausages, from chef Michael Anthony of New York City’s Gramercy Tavern, can be served sliced on a platter accompanied by plenty of mustard. See the recipe for Kielbasa » Back to Recipes From the 2011 James Beard Award Nominees »
OUTSTANDING CHEF: Frank Stitt, Highlands Bar and Grill, Birmingham, AL
Oysters raised in less-briny waters lack adequate salinity Stitt (whose restaurant Highlands Bar and Grill was also nominated for Outstanding Restaurant) recommends serving them with a ramekin of this tart sauce made fizzy with the addition of prosecco. See the recipe for Highlands Oyster Mignonette » Back to Recipes From the 2011 James Beard Award Nominees »
OUTSTANDING CHEF: Donald Link, Herbsaint, New Orleans
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Messina Hof takes over James Beard House in New York City
This Tuesday, June 19th, award-winning Messina Hof Winery will be showcasing its culinary program and a selection of its wines at the famed James Beard House in New York City. The event will feature two generations of the Bonarrigo family winemakers, Paul Vincent and Merrill Bonarrigo alongside Paul Mitchell and Karen Bonarrigo. They will be joined by chefs Chris Shepley and Glenn Huggins from the estate winery’s Vintage Houston Restaurant for 40 Years of Vineyard Life, a special five course dinner featuring Vineyard Cuisine™ and Messina Hof wine pairings.
Messina Hof Winery & Resort is one of the oldest wineries in the state. Paul Vincent and Merrill Bonarrigo founded Messina Hof in Bryan, Texas in 1977. Over the years they expanded their vineyards and onsite gardens, opening The Villa, an award-winning AAA 4-Diamond rated bed and breakfast, and the Vintage House Restaurant, which serves their signature Vineyard Cuisine™ incorporating Messina Hof wine into each dish, and highlighting food and wine pairing affinities. Forty years later, they have now expanded across Texas, becoming the largest producer of 100% Texas wine with additional locations in the Texas Hill Country’s town of Fredericksburg as well as Grapevine.
Paul Mitchell and wife Karen took the helm of the family operation in 2013 and showcase the same level of passion with the winemaking and dedication to Messina Hof’s signature hospitality. Under Paul Mitchell’s leadership, Messina Hof ended an exceptional 40th anniversary year with numerous achievements in international wine competitions, including a Gold Medal at AWC Vienna 2017, a Double Gold Medal and two Gold Medals at the 2018 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, as well as a Gold Medal at the 2018 TEXSOM International Wine Awards. Expansion plans are underway for an exception 2019 year of growth for the family owned business.
“It is amazing that what began 40 years ago as an experimental vineyard and fifty varietals of grapes, is now the Messina Hof of today offering more than 90 varietals with thousands of awards,” remarked Paul Mitchell Bonarrigo. “But to receive an invitation from the prestigious James Beard Foundation to cook for their guests at the James Beard House in New York City, is beyond an honor. It really cements for us just how far and blessed Texas wines, and our family business have come over the years. We are equally grateful and excited to showcase at our pairing dinner in June.”
Tickets for Messina Hof’s James Beard House dinner are $175 and are now available for purchase by calling 212-627-2308 or by going to jamesbeard.org/events.
If you are unable to attend the dinner, the James Beard House has a kitchen webcam where you can watch the dinner prep in the kitchen.
The menu for Messina Hof’s “40 Years of Vineyard Life” dinner will include:
Sparkling Brut–Poached Texas Gulf Shrimp with Roasted Garlic Butter and Parsley
Estate Herbed–Lone Star Chèvre with Sauvignon Blanc–Braised Local Beets and Candied Apricots
Mesquite-Smoked Broken Arrow Ranch Axis Venison with Navy Beans, Estate Herbs, and
Messina Hof Private Reserve Chardonnay on Grilled Baguettes
Messina Hof Artist Series Dry Grenache Rosé 2017
Messina Hof Artist Series Primitivo 2016
Roasted Local Scallops with Rendered Pancetta, Pea–Mint Pureé, Crispy Parmesan, and Mama Rosa Rosé–Red Bell Pepper Coulis
Messina Hof Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Arugula with Candied Royalty Pecans, Texas Grapefruit, Pomegranate, Shaved Parmesan, and White Balsamic–Riesling Vinaigrette
Messina Hof Father and Son Riesling 2017
Cabernet Sauvignon–Roasted Monterey Mushroom Medley > Oyster, Shitake, and Cremini Mushrooms with Truffle Oil
Messina Hof Sagrantino Reserva 2016
Grilled Broken Arrow Ranch South Texas Antelope with Sémillon, Hill Country Peaches, Roasted Polenta Cake, and Sautéed Baby Zucchini
Messina Hof Private Reserve Merlot 2015
Tawny Port–Macerated Local Blackberries and Dark Sweet Cherries with Whipped Mascarpone and Estate Mint
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