Report: Chefs & Champagne 2011
Last weekend I had the fortunate task of covering the 2011 James Beard Foundation Chefs & Champagne event. With some of the biggest stars in the culinary world bringing their talents to the East End, it was a foodie paradise. (Though the 100-degree temperature did make indulging in the plethora of dishes a sport of caution.) Thankfully there was plenty of chilled Champagne, rosé and ice-cold beer on hand to keep everyone cool—or at least less hot.
During my booth hopping I chatted with chef Daniel Boulud, who served a falling-off-the-bone cumin-spiced lamb rib with a cool yogurt sauce. Emeril Lagasse, the “Bam!” man himself, was in good form as this year’s honoree serving up a creamy, chilled shrimp dish. Other amazing (and cool) dishes included deconstructed gazpachos and a variety of ceviches, all of which utilized local ingredients.
Marc Forgione, who recently celebrated a win on Iron Chef America, sported his signature mohawk and served up an awesome poached lobster with Sriracha butter on a bed of barley and corn—a perfect dish for such a sweltering day. The sweetness of the corn and lobster contrasted nicely with the heat of the Sriracha.
Sam Hazen of Veritas served up an incredible oyster escabeche with heirloom tomatoes and watermelon. The subtle brininess of the dish married perfectly with a chilled Wölffer rosé. Rouge Tomate’s Jeremy Bearman whipped up a stellar Hawaiian walu (similar to Chilean sea bass) ceviche with avocado and yuzo kosho—one of my favorites of the day. Red Rooster chef Marcus Samuelsson dished a chilled corn soup with marinated Arctic char and smoked tomatillos that was light, refreshing and quite excellent.
Other notable chefs braving the heat included Missy Robbins of A Voce; Wolfgang Ban of Seäsonal and Edi & The Wolf; Michel Richard of Citronelle in Washington, DC; George Mendes of Aldea; James Carpenter of c/o The Maidstone’s The Living Room; and Sarah Jenkins of Porchetta and Porsena.
Considered the East End’s premiere culinary event, Chefs & Champagne raises funds to support the James Beard Foundation’s mission and programs, including its annual food conference on sustainability, public health and nutrition as well as culinary student scholarships, without which the next generation of great chefs might never fire their ovens.
Click here to watch Stephen's video report.