This past weekend I was privileged to attend the James Beard Foundation Taste America dinner; a national culinary festival exploring local cuisine in 10 cities from coast to coast. Several local James Beard award winning chefs worked together to provide guests with an amazing dinner from start to finish.
For those that don't know:
"James Beard was an educator, prolific cookbook author, pioneering television personality and a promoter of American cuisine long before "farm to table" and "American regional cooking" were part of our culinary lexicon. He was a tireless traveler, bringing his endorsement of good food and recipes prepared fresh, wholesome American ingredients to a country just becoming aware of its own culinary heritage."
This may not mean much to some, but to a foodie like myself, attending a James Beard Foundation event is a huge deal. So I canceled plans with family and friends, put on my favorite "little black dress" and tracked down a fellow foodie to join me; all to dine with local talent under the Phoenix night sky.
Held al fresco on the grounds of the Westin Keirland Resort; the setting couldn't be more perfect. The evening started with some hearty hors d'oeuvres and creative cocktails. Some highlights:
Chef Chris Bianco served a cavatelli made with local durum flour adorned with delicious market green onions in a light cream sauce. Last but not least Chef Janos Wilder from Tucson served my favorite dish of the hour: the cholla bud escabeche with queso ranchero.
It was hard to believe that with all this food we still had a 4 course plated dinner, paired with wine, ahead of us. If Chef Nobuo Fukuda creation didn't get you on taste; it definitely won you over with it's presentation. Each type of fish from the yellowtail to the octopus was paired perfectly and presented with grace.
Next up was Chef Vincent Guerithault's baby spinach and roasted butternut squash salad which was lightly dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette; simple elegance.
The main course was a braised beef short rib topped with cherry tomatoes and chimichurri. Created by Taste America All Star Chef Suzanne Gohn from LA, this fork tender beef was sitting on top of a round of corn bread and served with cavolo nero.
The grand finale of the evening, was a dessert tower of passion fruit filled white chocolate with a side of raspberry sorbet presented by Chef Christopher Gross.
I can't begin to express how honored and delighted I was to attend this culinary feast put forth from chefs right in our own backyard. How very lucky we are to have so much talent in one city. Special thanks to MMPR for giving me the opportunity to attend this gala.