To cook at the James Beard House in New York’s Greenwich Village is considered one of the highest honors among chefs. That honor is being bestowed on some of Central Florida’s star chefs in June.
Jamie McFadden of Cuisiniers Catering; Kevin Fonzo of K Restaurant; Scott Copeland, Antonio’s La Fiamma; and James and Julie Petrakis, The Ravenous Pig have been invited to cook at the house on June 22, 2010.
The townhouse on West 12th Street — Beard’s actual residence before his death — is home to the James Beard Foundation. Visiting chefs cook in the cookbook author’s personal kitchen, which is larger than the kitchens found most Manhattan apartments but much smaller than a professional one. Guests dine at tables set up in the former living and dining rooms, as well as in a smaller room off to the side that was Beard’s bedroom.
The group of chefs is still working on the menu, but some possible dishes include: citrus and coriander cobia; Zellwood sweetcorn veloute with crispy frog legs; a snook, perhaps with a Hammock Hollow gazpacho; and rabbit ballantine with pork hash and Deep Creek Ranch lamb sweetbreads. Dessert will feature beer and will incorporate, in a way that hasn’t yet been determined, Winter Park Honey.
These chefs are not the first to cook at the Beard House. McFadden himself has cooked there before, in the mid ‘90s with Mark Rodriguez and Clair Epting from Jordan’s Grove. Disney has sent its top chef before, and just last fall Mark Beaupre of JW Marriott participated in a dinner, and master sommelier Brian Koziol in another, though neither event was Central Florida specific.
McFadden et al are part of the exciting emergence of chefs that are raising the country’s awareness of Central Florida as a dining destination. (Fonzo is a semi-finalist for a Beard Award this year.) So this dinner is a chance to show the country — or at least a houseful of food-loving New Yorkers — the kind of talent they can find in Orlando restaurants.