This Friday, October 13th local culinary stars and enthusiasts gathered at the Museum of the American Revolution for the 5th Anniversary of the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America Tour. As a guest of sponsor Hansgrohe USA and true lovers of food we were very excited to attend. While the James Beard Foundation has hit the road in the past 4 years to raise funds for culinary scholarships with its Taste America Culinary Tour dinners this is the first year Philadelphia was added as a stop.
Hansgrohe is a sponsor Philadelphia, as well as San Francisco, CA on October 27-28; and Austin, TX on November 3-4. Each stop features a mixture of special dinners, as well as celebrity chef demonstrations at local outposts of Sur La Table, the popular kitchen supply retailer and cooking class destination.
The James Beard Foundation’s mission is to celebrate, nurture and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone. A portion of the proceeds from its Taste America tour will be donated to establish Taste America scholarships for aspiring culinary students in each Taste America city. The scholarship fund, established in 1991, “assists aspiring and established culinary professionals who plan to further their education at a licensed or accredited culinary school, or hospitality institution, college, or university.”
Our evening at the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America Tour began with the VIP reception, Cuba Libre’s Chef Guillermo Pernot prepared a Ceviche Bar for guests upstairs at the museum. Those arriving later for the main reception were greeted with glasses of wine and champagne while music from a harpist played.
The cocktail hour’s menu included Foie Gras Torchon, Apple, Hickory, & Shiso created by Chef Scott Anderson of Elements and Mistral. A Malabi Custard with Pomegranate-Black Tea Gelee, Fig, and Candied Almonds, and Figs created by Chef Camille Cogswell of Zahav. We adored the Cured Scallop with Sweet Corn, Sunflower and Preserved Truffle created by Chef Nicholas Elmi of Laurel.
And the Tuna Tataki with Ginger, Wasabi, Kalamansi, and Nori Crackers created by Chef Nathaniel Horwitz of Morimoto was not to miss. Stephen Starr was also serving as co-chair of the dinner.There was also a Smoked Carrot Pate on Pumpernickel with Carrot Mustard created by Chef Richard Landau. When the doors to the main ballroom opened we were greeted by blue and purple lights and tables adorned with appropriately designed floral arrangements which incorporated roses, orchids, and more alongside fresh fruit.
President of the James Beard Foundation, Susan Ungaro, welcomed guests with a short introduction video highlighting the goals of the foundation and some of the evenings sponsors.
- The 1st Course prepared by James Beard Award winner Chef Greg Vernick featured a Heart of Romaine with Figs, Grafton Village Cheese Aged Cheddar, and Buttermilk Vinaigrette. We loved the balance of light and rich flavors of this salad.
- The 2nd Course by Host and James Beard Award Winner Chef Jean-Marie Lacroix was a Charred Octopus with Smoked Fingerling Potatoes, Preserved Lemon, Guanciale, and Shellfish Vinaigrette. The presentation of this plate might have been our favorite of the evening.
Before the next course was served the ballroom turned into a lively auction house, as culinary packages such as a private dinner cooked in your home by Chef Jean-Marie Lacroix, an intimate evening at Audrey Claire’s COOK prepared by Chef Nicholas Elmi, and overnight stay at the Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City, NJ and private dinner at Cuba Libre’s new wood-fired grill prepared by Chef Guillermo Pernot were some of the prizes auctioned off to raise money for the James Beard Foundation’s scholarship fund.
- The 3rd Course made by James Beard Award winner Chef Marc Murphy of New York’s Landmarc and Ditch Plains. An entree course of Braised Beef Short Ribs with Otto File Polenta, Broccoli Rabe, and Wild Mushrooms. This hearty stick-to-your-rubs dish was perfect for the start of the Fall season.
- The 4th Course and final dessert course was prepared by Beard semifinalist Pastry Chef Pat O’Malley. An All the Apples Strudel with Crab Apple Marmalade and Crème Fraîche Ice Cream. Our favorite dish of the dinner, this flaky strudel was warm, sweet, and fresh. The perfect way to end our meal.
Guests enjoyed the evening from cocktail hour to dinner with a selection of Robert Mondavi Wines, Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Lo-Fi Aperitifs, and more. The after-party hosted by Richard Sandoval at Aqimero followed with light bites like Smoked Fish Crostini and Mini Crabcakes. The full bar was open, but special after party beverages were provided by Dogfish Head Brewery, and Stateside Urbancraft Vodka. The delicious Stateside Margarita was the signature drink of the after-party.
This evening was truly one to remember. It was surreal to bump elbows with so many culinary stars. Along with all the passion, hard work, and dedication these great chefs know to excel in their field they need the proper equipment. Sponsor Hansgrohe is known for exceptional German engineering and design with assembly in the USA. Since founding back in 1901, Hansgrohe has a passion for water, and for providing customers with superior kitchen and bath faucets, shower products, and accessories that are sustainable, innovative, award-winning, and built to last. These products are seen in professional kitchens, and also available for the everyday home.