Fresh from Florida’s Gulf Coast to the Hallowed James Beard House in NYC

Categories: Food,
October 8, 2014,

Our anticipation to attend a dinner with chefs we know and love from our area of the world—Florida’s Gulf Coast—at the James Beard House on Wednesday, October 1, was exciting. How many people get a chance to share a meal in a cozy and charming dining room that used to be the living room of James Beard? He’s an American epicurean legend, even for non-foodies.

In David Kamp’s book The United States of Arugula, James Beard was a “brand” even before it became a household term. Beard became known as “the face and belly of American gastronomy” in addition to being a cookbook author and culinary teacher.

The James Beard Foundation was established in 1986 in his honor, with its headquarters in Beard’s Greenwich Village townhouse, which hosts frequent dinners featuring select chefs working the Beard kitchen in the company of Foundation members and industry professionals. Notable past chefs include Daniel BouludEmeril LagasseNobu MatsuhisaJacques Pépin, and Charlie Trotter.

Beautiful decor throughout the James Beard House

The house remains as it was when Beard lived there, and you can still feel his legacy within, now being carried on in promoting culinary artists, wine professionals, journalists, and cookbook authors. It’s hallowed ground for chefs, and it was an honor to watch five of Florida’s best chefs in the same kitchen where Beard used to entertain and teach his love of food.

The five-course meal featured modern Southern cuisine using a bounty of ingredients from our beloved Gulf Coast. It was sponsored by Visit Pensacola and prepared by Pensacola Celebrity Chefs (drum roll please):Dan Dunn of H2O in the Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front; Irv Miller of Jackson’s Steakhouse in downtown Pensacola; Jim Shirley from the Fish House on Pensacola Bay; Gus Silivos of Nancy’s Haute Affairs; and Frank Taylor of Global Grill—and they did not disappoint!



House-smoked oyster sumac, seared Gulf snapper with pineapple sage pesto, Pensacola Bay white scampi, salt and pepper Apalachicola scallops, and Baldwin County-raised grass-fed beef were among the dishes served. Dessert, prepared collaboratively by the five chefs, was an unforgettable “Bushwacker Two-Way” featuring the signature beverage Bushwacker—a creamy, delicious rum drink made with cream of coconut, Kahlua coffee liqueur, crème de cacao, half-and-half, and vanilla ice cream—paired with a tres leches cake that is topped off with toffee glass and coconut whip.

“To have been invited to the James Beard House for an unprecedented fourth year is a tremendous honor, as is having the opportunity to represent the rich history and culture of the Pensacola Bay Area and of Florida through culinary exploration,” Chef Silivos said. After such an array of delicious creations, it’s no surprise these culinary collaborators have been asked back to the James Beard House for a fifth year. Bravo!


Also hosted at the house are the James Beard Foundation Awards, considered the “Oscars of the food world,” which are held annually to honor exceptional chefs and food journalists. The main Awards Galas are held on the first Monday in May and feature an awards ceremony and a winning chef’s tasting reception. The journalism awards are held on a separate day.

Read and see more from this event with the Pensacola Celebrity Chefs in VIE’s upcoming Food & Fashion Issue – March/April 2015.

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