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James Beard House: Brooklyn Cooks

The James Beard House brought together some of Brooklyn’s finest Sunday night for a 4-course tasting menu highlighting the creativity of our fair borough. Butchers, pie mavens, ice cream makers and the like, treated diners to a showcase of that which they do so well.  In this understatedly cool event, respect was the dominant theme.

The kitchen was a pass through between dining rooms, and gave a somewhat rare view of all these talented chefs rounded up in one place doing their thing– like the nature channel, but in a much tighter space.  Open to gawkers, photographers, and all those interested in the inner workings, there was a precise, organized and overall unusually relaxed vibe amongst the hustle and bustle of plating and tasting.

Frequent collaborators Dennis Spina and Tom Mylan mentioned to us that it took well over a year to make this shindig happen, due to various Brooklyn cuisine fanfare getting in the way.  This collective, seemingly always opening new digs, or working events, teaching classes, breaking down whole goats in their storefronts, or cooking for one another’s weddings, finally got it together last night for what has become increasingly rare in this culture of celebrity cheffing– good old fashioned, cooking.

King & Soulayphet

King & Soulayphet

King Phojanakong and Soulayphet Schwader of Umi Nom handled the hors d’oeuvres. There was the always sensational Chinese sausage and sticky rice, crisp lollipop wings, the surprising pickled goodness of single pears, zucchini, string beans and radishes, and crab and cream cheese wontons. The eats were rounded out the first hour with some Stella Artois, Leffe Blond, Hoegaarden and prosecco for some boozing pleasure.

Seated amongst other food minded people, PowerPoint worthy discussions of the borough’s best fare, a lot of whom were the chefs du jour, ensued immediately right up until the first course, when the room fell silent. All that was heard for the rest of the evening fell between courses.

There was the amazing bread plate from Scratchbread, the perfectly charred octopus and scallop ceviche with cocktail sauce.  There was stuffed baby pumpkin, cherry tomatoes and prime rib.  Top it off with a salted caramel apple pie and black pepper ice cream that made grown women in cocktail attire contemplate licking their plates, and grown men weep…with abandon…at a table full of strangers.

The evening finished with some Q & A time, which judging by the interest level could have ran well into the wee hours if allowed. All and all, there ain’t many things better than a Manhattan event, with Brooklyn Style. Except maybe a Brooklyn event with Brooklyn style. Don’t hate.

Full Menu after the jump.  The James Beard House hosts tons of Brooklyn related food events. Check back often at the James Beard Foundation website to see what’s up.

Hors d’Oeuvre

King Phojanakong and Soulayphet Schwader
Sautéed Sweet Sausage with Thai Chile–Lime Sauce
Umi Nom Crispy Wings > Deep-Fried Chicken Wings with Fish Sauce and Anaheim Peppers
Crab & Cream Cheese Wontons with Sweet Chile Mayo
Housemade Summer Vegetable Pickles
Stella Artois, Leffe Blond, Hoegaarden
Collalbrigo Brut Prosecco NV


Rebecca Weitzman
Grilled Octopus and Charred Escarole with Romesco Two Ways
Au Bon Climat Pinot Blanc–Pinot Gris 2009

Noah Bermanoff
Cremini, Swiss Chard, and Golden Raisin–Stuffed Lamb Haleshka
Terra Andina Altos Carmenère–Carignan 2007

Dennis Spina and Tom Mylan
Prime Rib with Family-Style Sides
Tomatoes with Armagnac
Trotter Juice–Braised Pumpkin Braised with Amaretto and Chicken Liver
Raw Scallops with Corn and Cocktail Sauce
Chateau Roc de Candale Saint-Emilon Grand Cru 2005

Emily Elsen, Melissa Elsen and Diana Hardeman
Salted Caramel Apple Pie with Black Pepper Ice Cream
Toro Albalá Oloroso Viejo NV

Breads provided by SCRATCHbread.

Wines generously selected and donated by Juice Box Wine & Spirits and Verity Wines.

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