Since 2004, the Celebrity Chef Tour has been recreating the “Once-in-a-Lifetime” experience of dining at the historic James Beard House, for which the nation’s top chefs come to prepare menus at the Foundation’s invitation, by featuring the greatest culinary artists in major markets across the United States. While harnessing the excitement and huge popular culture interest in all things food, the Celebrity Chef Tour benefits the James Beard Foundation, whose mission is to “celebrate, preserve and nurture America’s culinary heritage and diversity in order to elevate the appreciation of our culinary excellence.”
As such, the dinner featured a tasting of the best of Chefs Appleman and Chow’s dishes prepared with their contagious creative energy and enthusiasm in the kitchen, with beautifully paired wines in this festive setting. The evening with the Celebrity Chef Tour began at 7:00 pm with a reception of passed hors d'oeuvres and wine, giving everyone a taste of things to come.
The first appetizer was Crespellini with Ricotta and was very yummy. Then trays of Prosciutto and Radicchio were passed around. Pork Rinds with Peperonata was also an appetizer but Pork Rinds are something I never got into, and I didn’t like it this way either. The Deviled Egg with Fried Chicken Livers and Radishes was very different and I thought it was an interesting way to serve it. I really enjoyed this, as did the rest of my group. Then we finished our passed appetizer course with Burrata and Crostini.
Also passed around were large glasses of Souverain 2006 Sonoma County Viognier and Souverain 2006 Alexander Valley Merlot, which I had and was fruity, rich and delicious.
After the guests were seated they were served the first of five courses, each of which are paired with a wine from Souverain.
The Fish Course was Eggplant with Swordfish Conserva, Tomatoes, Basil, Capers, Chiles and Olives paired with Souverain 2007 Alexander Valley Sauvignon Blanc.
Next we had a Pasta Course with Gramigna Nera with Octopus, Borlotti Beans, Tomato, Garlic and Basil. I liked the chewy texture of the pasta, but I am not usually one for beans served with Pasta. Must be my mother in my ear reminding me not to mix two starches. The pasta course was paired with Souverain 2007 Alexander Valley Sauvignon Blanc.
The Meat Course was Mixed roast of Heritage pork: Pork Meatballs with Tomato and Grana, Pork sausage with Marinated Zucchini, and Pork shoulder Roast with Pine nuts and Currants served with Souverain 2005 Sonoma County Pinot Noir and Souverain 2005 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
After dinner a Cheese Course was served with Pecorino, Chestnut Brioche, Roasted Grapes and Mosto paired with Souverain 2006 Alexander Valley Merlot.
The Dessert Course was a Cornmeal Almond Cake with a Bitter Almond Semifreddo, with Peaches, Honey, Almonds, Lemon and Black Pepper.
American Express, Yahoo!, Souverain, Certified Angus Beef, Renaissance Hotels and Hudson Valley Foie Gras are proud sponsors of the Celebrity Chef Tour benefiting the James Beard Foundation.
Chef Nate Appleman is a native of Greenville, Ohio, Nate Appleman grew up cooking and always knew he wanted to be a chef. He enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park at seventeen and completed his internship at Cincinnati's Maisonette under Chef Jean Robert de Cavel; by 1999 he was living in Seattle, working at a French-Portuguese restaurant, Brasa, where dishes like roast suckling pig first inspired his love for the wood fire oven.
A growing affinity for butchery and an interest in curing inspired Appleman to join a friend living in Florence, Italy for six months. While sampling the rustic, local dishes and learning the art of salumi production, Appleman developed a deep appreciation for the region's cuisine and its focus on seasonal ingredients and simple, time-honored preparations. He returned from Italy in 2001 and took a position overseeing the meat station at Campton Place under Laurent Manrique. When renovations closed Campton Place, Appleman was loaned out to Sylvan Portay at The Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton for a brief but memorable month before moving to Napa Valley with his wife so she could attend pastry school. Appleman took a position as Executive Sous Chef at St. Helena's Tra Vigne for a year, then in December of 2003 received a call from Christophe Hille, a colleague from his Campton Place days, requesting he join him as Executive Sous Chef at a new venture in San Francisco called A16.
Appleman quickly rose to Chef de Cuisine and part-owner of A16 in July 2005. He took on the Executive Chef position in April 2006 and earned certification by the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association, becoming one of the few certified pizzaiolos in the United State.
Elie Chow hosted the event. Elie Chow the executive chef at Twist, designed the menu as a blend of many distinctive flavors, perfect for sharing. A graduate of the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, Chow utilizes her experience at the city’s top restaurants (including Pinot Hollywood) to create a memorable and flexible experience for diners of all sorts. “I see Twist as the premier place to enjoy a quick meal before a show in Hollywood or even a big, blowout dinner extravaganza,” Chow says. “No matter the situation, we just serve great food.” Twist is located in the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel on Hollywood and Highland.
James Beard is widely recognized as the father of American culinary arts. Throughout his life, he pursued and advocated the highest standards, and served as a mentor to emerging talents. The James Beard House is where Beard lived, taught, and welcomed friends and colleagues who shared his love for food. Shortly after he passed away, a group of friends sparked a drive to save his home and create a living memorial and a center for the culinary community. It has become what Founding President Peter Kump envisioned it could be, “a culinary place to see and taste the work of this country’s most talented chef’s, wine makers, cookbook authors, and teachers.” The James Beard House’s sister non-profit organization, the James Beard Foundation, whose mission is to “celebrate, preserve and nurture America’s culinary heritage and diversity in order to elevate the appreciation of our culinary excellence,” furthers Mr. Kump’s vision by providing scholarships and volunteer opportunities for aspiring culinary professionals, educating today’s youth on the importance of good food and essential nutrition.
The Renaissance Hollywood Hotel & Spa, located at Hollywood & Highland Center, a shopping and entertainment mecca and home to the Academy Awards® ceremonies, offers 632 distinctive guest rooms, 33 suites, and the unforgettable 3,500 square foot Panorama Suite. Awarded the ENERGY STAR® Label from the EPA in 2008, the property is well-known as being a favorite of major production companies and business travelers alike, the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel & Spa embodies modern luxury accented by classic Hollywood charm, featuring the distinctive restaurant Twist, an outdoor pool overlooking the Hollywood Sign, world-class fitness center, and outstanding service savvy travelers have come to expect from the Renaissance brand name.
For info on Renaissance Hollywood Hotel & Spa click here.
For info on the James Beard Celebrity Tour click here.