James Beard has been described as the Dean of American cookery. The James Beard Foundation, established in his honor after his death in the late 1980s, invites chefs to showcase their talents by hosting dinners in Beard’s former New York City townhouse. Chef Vincent Barcelona of Harvest on Hudson was thrilled and honored for the opportunity bring his cuisine to a sold out dinner at the James Beard House this past Saturday.
Patrice Costa here, part-time blogger and part-time prep cook at Harvest on Hudson, reporting on this very special dinner. Chef Barcelona views cooking at the James Beard House as the pinnacle of his seasoned career (akin to winning a culinary Oscar!), and I couldn’t have been more proud of “my chef” and his team for the beautiful Waterfront Elegance menu they created. The evening started with passed hors d’oeuvres paired with prosecco and specialty cocktails created by Ralph Leon, Harvest’s Beverage Director and Sommelier.
Working in a restaurant is truly being part of a big family. So, it comes as no surprise that Vincent shared this honor with his three chefs from the other restaurants of the Fort Pond Bay Company.
The menu for the evening was the epitome of a restaurant family coming together to collaborate and create. It was a very unique celebration of the styles and cuisines of four chefs and restaurants.
The dinner started with a first course of Lobster and Coconut Ceviche from the executive chef at Half Moon in Dobbs Ferry, Enrique Estrada. This dish was a lovely melange of lobster, coconut milk, lime, mango, cilantro, shaved coconut, ginger, jalapenos and plantain chips.
Executive chef Alexander Williamson of East by Northeast in Montauk treated us to some Asian flavors with a Kabocha Squash Dashi with soba noodles, charred Brussels sprouts and housemade togarashi (Japanese chili pepper blend).
Chef Barcelona’s dish was a delicate Roasted Montauk Skate served with lobster coral butter, charred Belgian endive and aged sherry-chive vinaigrette. The inspiration for this dish goes back to Vincent’s days at Le Bernadin, but of course, with his own distinctive spin.
For the fourth course, executive chef Jake Williams from Harvest on Fort Pond in Montauk treated us to a Roasted Pork Tenderloin with baby watercress, prosciutto, pine nuts, apricot-apple chutney and a warm citrus-pork vinaigrette.
For each course, sommelier Ralph Leon chose the ideal wine partner, like this 2010 Pinot Noir from Robert Sinskey Vineyards for the pork tenderloin.
Chef Alexander Williamson’s Pineapple Upside-Down Cake with thai bird’s-eye chile caramel and toasted coconut was a surprising spicy yet sweet ending to a perfect meal.
Whether you realize it or not, just like a normal dinner service at the restaurant, there’s an exhaustive amount planning that must happen to create an event like this. Miguel Pina, the Executive Sous Chef at Harvest on Hudson, was an indispensable part of the success of this dinner. Vincent describes Miguel as “his rock” and openly admits how much he appreciates his support over the past ten years at Harvest.
Attending the James Beard dinner for me was a little bittersweet, because at the end of this month chef Barcelona will be leaving his position as Corporate Executive Chef of the Fort Pond Bay Company. He will be missed in the kitchen, but I know his Harvest family wishes him all good things as he pursues the next chapter in his career with Supreme Oil Company (Admiration Foods) as Corporate Chef and Vice President of Customer Experience.