NEW YORK, NY :: JBF AWARDS TASTING GALA // 2013 james beard foundation awards, susan ungaro, tasting gala


Attending the JBF Awards was such a privilege. I walked into a room of familiar and not-so familiar faces. The event was held at Lincoln Center and the venue was filled with hundreds of people in their best dress.

The theme of the event was LIGHTS! CAMERA! TASTE! – a nod to food in film. Like the Oscars, the James Beard Foundation invited Oliver Platt as their celebrity host… and I got to meet him when he walked right into my shot- kinda love the photo, don’t you?

TASTING GALA EXPERIENCE: As you know, I was not in attendance for the actual awards due to culinary school obligations, but I did make it to the Tasting Gala at the end of the night. Each chef prepared a dish based on their favorite movie and below I’ve bolded my favorite dishes… but my absolute favorite dish was Marcus Samuelsson’s Jerk Bacon and Cow Peas- the dish was booming with complex flavor combinations that made my mouth go WOW.

You can take a look at all of the photos for the evening on my facebook account.


Awards Gala Reception  Menu

Grant Achatz
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Cocktail
Inspired by 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea 

Nate Appleman
Royale with Cheese
Inspired by Pulp Fiction 

Jean-François Bruel
Liberty Farm Roasted Duck Breast with Turnips, Spinach, and Sauce au Sang
Inspired by Who’s Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?

Traci des Jardins
Tortilla Soup
Inspired by Tortilla Soup 

Todd English
Sushi and Sake
Inspired by Jiro Dreams of Sushi 

Gavin Kaysen
Sea Urchin with Banana, Coconut, Lime, and Cilantro
Inspired by Cast Away

Sarah Kosikowski and Derek Poirier
Presented by Valrhona North America
The Golden Ticket > Otucan Dark Chocolate Pot de Crème, Mango Pearls, Dulcey Almond Banana Rocher, and Coconut Opalys Whipped Ganache
Inspired by Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Christopher Lee
smoky Baby Back ribs with georgia peach glaze
Inspired by Smokey and the Bandit

Frank Maldonado
Presented by Rums of Puerto Rico Green Pigeon Peas and Plantain Dumplings with Ron del Barrilito Rum Sauce
Inspired by The Rum Diaries 

Thomas McNaughton
Goat Curds and Whey with Spring Vegetables, Herbs, and Preserved Lemon
Inspired by San Francisco

Michael Mina
Chilled Maine Lobster in Edible Shell with Uni and Kanzuri
Inspired by Splash

David Myers
Candy Bar with Magic (Hinoki & the Bird Version)
Inspired by the Harry Potter Movies

Melissa Perello
Butter-Poached Chicken with Spring Onion and Crème Fraîche Soubise
Inspired by Napoleon Dynamite 

Nicole Plue
Saltine Cracker Toffee
Inspired by Jaws

Douglas Rodriguez
Crispy Foie Gras and Duck Cigars
Inspired by Scarface

Gabriel Rucker
Acorn Crêpes with Buffalo Heart and Corn
Inspired by Dances with Wolves

Marcus Samuelsson
Jerk Bacon with Cow Peas
Inspired by Django Unchained

Aarón Sánchez
Lamb Enchiladas with Mole Negro
Inspired by Like Water for Chocolate

Mindy Segal
Brown sugar Tcho Chocolate Chip Cupcake with Vanilla Bean and Malted Milk Liquid Center
Assorted Variations of Chocolate Chip Cookies
Inspired by Stranger Than Fiction

John Suley
Presented by Celebrity Cruises®
Hamachi Crudo with Osetra Caviar, Cauliflower, Shiso, and Lemongrass
Inspired by Eat Drink Man Woman 

Chrstina Tosi
Cake Truffles: Popcorn, Pretzel, and Birthday
Inspired by Movie Night

Allison Vines-Rushing and Slade Rushing
Crispy Alligator with Blood Orange Marmalade and Mustard Oil
Inspired by Beasts of the Southern Wild​

OVERALL: The James Beard Awards are the food equivalent to the Oscars, and now that I have attended, I totally understand what Jennifer Lawrence meant in her acceptance speech (just google 2013 Best Actress at the 4 minute mark). I was surrounded by the biggest names in the food industry and it was intimidating, exhilarating and delicious. Such a privilege to be among the culinary stars of today. Looking forward to attending in the future when I have made a name for myself in this ever-growing industry.

PS: If you weren’t in attendance, JBF provided live streaming of the awards, so grab your favorite bag of popcorn and a pair of 3-D glasses (not necessary but there were 3D effects as noted by JBF President Susan Ungaro)!

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