The James Beard Foundation, the New York culinary institution, generally pops up on the radar in the spring with its James Beard Awards, which are the Oscars of the dining world.
Now, the Beard is taking its show on the road - visiting 10 cities over five weekends this fall for fund- and attention-raisers - for "Taste America: Local Flavor from Coast to Coast," a national traveling food festival.
Each city's programming is slightly different. In Philadelphia, on the evening of Oct. 4 at Peachtree & Ward's Peche in East Falls, the Beard will recognize five legacies of the city's food scene with a 6 p.m. reception, followed by a 6:45 p.m. dinner. Following that will be a tasting featuring dishes from dozens of local chefs.
Steve Poses (whose 1970s restaurants including Frog set the stage for Philly's first restaurant renaissance), Jean-Marie Lacroix (who put Philly on the map first at the Four Seasons and later at the Rittenhouse Hotel), Susanna Foo (who set trends by marrying Asian and French cuisine), Judy Wicks (whose social activism permeated her White Dog Cafe), and Georges Perrier (founder of Le Bec-Fin) will be paired for a $500-a-head, four-course dinner prepared by chosen "proteges": Pierre Calmels (Bibou and the forthcoming Le Cherie), Ann Coll of Meritage, and Matt Ridgway of The Pass.
Coll said she was grateful to Foo. "She has been a great mentor to me. Her hard work ethic and love for food has inspired me over these past years," she said. "I am very lucky to have worked along side of one of the great female chefs that played an integral role in the Philadelphia food scene."
Reminded that he is a legacy, Poses said: "It feels good, though I still feel too young and involved to be a legacy." Poses (who turns 67 next month) runs Frog Commissary Catering. For that matter, Lacroix is now in the catering business (with Brûlée Catering). Foo, who sold her Walnut Street restaurant several years ago, owns the restaurant in Radnor bearing her name. Wicks sold much of her interest in the White Dog and now speaks on such topics as local living economies, responsible business, and the role of women in building a new economy. Perrier, who ceded his restaurants Le Bec-Fin and georges', has a business interest in The Art of Bread in Narberth.
Following the dinner, at 7 p.m. Peche will host a $200-a-head tasting whose chef lineup was curated by David Katz, representing Creekstone Farms, and Patrick Feury (Nectar).
The evening will be a who's who of the region's dining scene: In addition to Feury, Colls, Calmels and Ridgway, there will be food from Reinaldo Alfonso of the Continental, Joey Baldino of Zeppoli, Cedric Barbaret of Buddakan, Ed Batejan of Peachtree & Ward Catering, Wendy Born and James Barrett of Metropolitan Bakery, Joe Cicala of Le Virtu, Jon Cichon of Lacroix, Michael Falcone of Funky Little Kitchen, Terence Feury of Tavro 13, Chris Kearse of Will, Johncarl Lachman of Noord, Josh Lawler of Farm & Fisherman, Rob Marzinsky of Fitler Dining Room, Joe Monnich of the Dandelion, Jeremy Nolen of Brauhaus Schmitz, Lucio Palazzo of La Calaca Feliz, Ben Puchowitz of Matyson, Mitch Prensky of Supper, George Sabatino of Morgan’s Pier, Michael Santoro of the Mildred, Scott Schroeder of South Philly Tap Room, Michael Solomonov of Zahav, and Sean Weinberg of Restaurant Alba. Hot Club of Philadelphia will entertain.
Carla Hall, a D.C.-based Top Chef contestant and a host of ABC's The Chew, not only will emcee; she'll prepare cookies for the dessert. "I've done a few events for the James Beard Foundation, and when they ask, it's an easy yes," she said.
Hall also will appear 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 5 at the King of Prussia Sur La Table store to prepare braised duck ragut over butternut squash grits. She also will sign her book Cooking from the Heart: Comfort food that Hugs you immediately after the demo. Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby will demo Korean eggplant tacos with kimchee mayo and then sign their new Vedge cookbook. (Free seats must be arranged in advance at the store.)
Info is here.