NEW YORK, NYC :: JBF ST. LUCIA DINNER // first jbf kitchen experience, chef allen susser, chef jonathan dearden, pastry chef roma altoveros


At school we have a communication board for culinary opportunities in the community.

I normally jot down a few posts and sometimes I “glance and go”… however, Chef Barb (culinary instructor + externship coordinator), took a moment during class to speak to us about the James Beard Foundation (JBF).

“The James Beard Foundation offers a variety of events designed to educate, inspire, entertain, and foster an appreciation of American cuisine. Multi-course meals, complemented by wine pairings, prepared by guest chefs from around the world. Dinners may highlight individual chefs or chefs from more than one restaurant. Chefs may cook their own signature cuisine, or cook around a particular theme, such as a specific ingredient or holiday. When attending a dinner, guests are first invited to walk through the Beard House kitchen to meet the night’s chef and observe the event team at work.”

Basically Chef Barb said it’s kind of a big deal and encouraged our team to get involved. At first I didn’t think I was ready… however if Chef Barb thinks I’m ready, I must be ready. With that said, I had my first shift with Chef Allen Susser and Jonathan Dearden of St. Lucia.

Events of the Shift:

  1. Arrived 15 minutes before my shift because I’m always paranoid about being late
  2. Changed into my uniform and tried to remember who was the Head Chef (Note to Self: Re-google the event before you arrive)
  3. First Job: Toast Spices (I just arrived and I’m already by the fire, oh my jeezus)
  4. Second Job: Slice and Medium Dice Pineapple
  5. Ordered 5 Pastrami Sandwiches from Katzs for the team!
  6. Third Job: Cut a local fruit from St. Lucia called Breadfruit

Toughest Job: Pineapple Chips

  • Given 15 pineapples and was asked to make pineapple chips.
  • At first the Chef demo-ed on a mandoline, but decided that the slicer would be better.
  • FACT: I’ve never ever used an electric meat slicer in my life, but I’ve ordered enough speck and proscuitto crudo in my lifetime to understand how it functions.
  • After I chopped off the head, skin and eyes off of the pineapple, I turned on the machine.
  • The JBF slicer is incredibly noisy and somewhat intimidating; after changing the width the of the slice multiple tries, I finally settled on 2.1 and put a little muscle into the glide.
  • After the first 50 I started to get more an more confident with the machine- I now prefer it over the mandoline (manual slicer)
  • I made about 200 pineapple chips in total on silpats and parchment paper; luckily I had made extra because some stuck to the silpats and were a little “rustic” looking…
  • The only thing that got me through that shift were Roma’s chocolate truffles… heaven in a bite!

REWARDING EXPERIENCE: After the chips were made, I cut the rest of the pineapples into medium dice which was a feat in itself; pineapples are a weird shape and they have a core. My hand felt like it was going to fall off, however my persistence paid off when Chef Deardon took the finished pineapples, poured them into his dish and said, “Good knife skills, really good knife skills.” WOW! 

Check out the photos from the James Beard Foundation: A Spoonful of Paradise for the completed dishes!

PS: I kinda wish I asked someone in SE Asia to show me how to cut a pineapple with a  cleaver, they’re kind of amazing at it…
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  • Right: “asian pineapple cutting technique” has always amazed me too!
    Anyway, good job Justine!
    And those dishes looked great!

    • littlemisslocal

      Grazie Clau! I will be sharing more of the culinary adventures shortly :)
      Thanks again for always supporting my project and for sharing your thoughts and experiences!! :)