James Beard Foundation’s Chefs & Champagne® New York – Grilled, Chilled and Never Spilled
By Holly Buchanan
“I have but one regret in life, that I didn’t drink more champagne.” John Maynard Keynes
Well, that’s certainly a fate I don’t intend to share.
Giddy is the only appropriate word to describe what I felt walking into the James Beard Foundation’s 2012 Chefs & Champagne® New York at the bucolic Wolffer Estate Vineyard. Ah, so many inspired, delicious dishes, fabulous champagne (and wine) and so little time. It was like speed dating for foodies – a whirlwind tour of over 30 fabulous restaurants in a little over two hours. And all to raise money for The James Beard Foundation’s programs and mission including culinary student scholarships and the organization’s annual food conference on sustainability, public health, and nutrition.
At this year’s 2012 Chefs and Champagne® New York , The James Beard Foundation honored multiple award-winning TV personality and cookbook author Ted Allen and the judges of Food Network’s Chopped including Maneet Chauhan, Scott Conant, Amanda Freitag, Alex Guarnaschelli, Marc Murphy, Marcus Samuelsson, Aarón Sanchez, Chris Santos, and Geoffrey Zakarian
It was another great crowd including B. Smith, Dan Gasby, Katie Lee, and Carey Lowell, co-owner of Beford Post Inn whose chef Jeremy McMillan participated.
Another touching moment is the presentation of the Christian Wolffer Scholarship to a rising local culinary talent, named in memory of the man who loved food, wine, family, and the land. This year’s recipient was Eliza Martin.
Roman Roth, wine maker at Wolffer Estate Vineyard, was on hand to celebrate. The event featured a sampling of Wolffer wines. I was wondering how the grapes were doing in the dry hot weather. Roman said, “They arrived three weeks early this year.” I asked whether that was good or bad. “Very good,” Roman assured me. It’s great to have such polite and punctual grapes that actually arrive early, almost unheard of in the Hamptons.
Nicolas Feuillatte was pouring a variety of their champagnes and everyone was enjoying the fine festive bubbly. I know my sister, HipHamptons editor Heather Buchanan, has put Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte Rosé at the top of her birthday wish list for Sunday.
There was also a big crowd around the Delta Sky Club® “The Luxury Bar” where the Pomegranate Margaritas were going fast. The chefs themselves were happy with a cold Stella Artois® beer at the end of the day.
My goal for this year’s 2012 Chefs & Champagne® New York culinary celebration was to sample every dish, and I came darn close. I had to practically waddle back to my car, but it was so worth it. I admit, I was in a little bit of a feeding frenzy – dashing from dish to dish, but they were just all so alluring.
Just like with children, it’s hard to pick favorites. I loved them all with their own unique personalities. But a few standouts were:
Pastry Chef Marc Aumont – The Modern
Caramelia Milk Chocolate Trifle with Coconut Tapioca and Mango Gelee. What can I say? I went back three times. It was THAT good.
Laurent Kalkotour – db Bistro Moderne
Poached Scottish Salmon with Fines Herbes Emulsion and Smoked Potatoes
David Carmichael – Gilt
Watermelon-Lemongrass Consomme with Basil-Mint Caviar. I overheard the chef say there were “too many ingredients to list” and I believe it – so much was going my palette just kept exclaiming, “Oh…oh,, and then..and…oh wow!”
Larry Kolar – Solé East (right here in Montauk – yeah!)
Long Island Duck Breast with Frisee Salad and Sherry Vinaigrette
Larry’s better half shared his philosophy of “Keep it simple, local, and don’t complicate it.” It totally worked with this simple yet absolutely delicious dish.
And then there was……Oops, sorry, just drooled on my computer. And then there was a big line for Todd English (the Todd English Food Hall) and his Grilled Oysters Six Ways. Wow. Just wow.
So here’s a shout out to JBF, Wolffer Estate Vineyard, Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte, Stella Artois® and all the chefs. Each dish was more delicious than the next. Thanks to you I had an amazing evening and may not need to feed myself again until, possibly, August. Cheers!