There are many unforgettable talents in the world of food past and present but one of the greatest was James Beard. Not only a skilled chef and a widely read writer, he was also an insightful teacher and mentor to hundreds.
During his lifetime he always welcomed culinary students, fellow food authors and seasoned chefs as well as endless food and beverage professionals into his home and his kitchen in New York City.
The many conversations and meals he encouraged there became the foundation for America’s new found sense of food. Yet when James Beard died in 1985, many feared that the inspiring conversations he mentored among the steaming pans in his kitchen would be lost.
Peter Kump, who founded The New York Cooking School (now known as The Institute of Culinary Education) and Julia Child were both long time admirers of Beard’s work and influence. Both were also passionately committed to continuing the legacy of his creative voice.
Working together with other professionals, including Wolfgang Puck, Jacques Pépin, Judith Jones and Larry Forgione, Peter and Julia were able to raise sufficient funds to purchase Beard’s beloved house and turned it into one of the world’s most famous culinary center.
Today the James Beard House is as busy as when James himself lived there with over 250 events being hosted annually on site. James must be happy (and smiling as only he could) to know that wine glasses are still being raised beneath his roof and fine dinners and conversations shared just as when he was alive.
There’s only one problem though – you have to go to New York City to enjoy the creative atmosphere and world class cuisine. But now there is an alternative: The Celebrity Chef Tour. Name chefs are now joining with international vendors and select regional restaurants to invite diners to feast like kings right in their own city – all benefiting the programs of the James Beard Foundation.
A recent dinner in Seattle Washington brought celebrity chefs Richard Blais, Brian Scheehser and James B. Hassell together at the Columbia Tower Club for an unforgettable evening. Over one hundred guests enjoyed a cornucopia of Canapés, Flaked Steak Pastrami, Dungeness Crab, Roasted Tomato Tarts, Salmon Graviox and Lamb with Japanese Pumpkins all beautifully matched to the outstanding wines of Chateau Ste Michelle.
Everyone present enjoyed the evening as the room filed with applause and many thanks to these three very talented chefs who graciously shared their skills to continue the great work of James Beard.
Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2010