New Yorkers got a taste of Florida in their own back yard as a quartet of chefs from Burt Rapoport’s restaurant group knocked out four courses and a host of hors d’oeuvres at dinner last week at the James Beard House in Greenwich Village.
Ben Burger (Henry’s), Jon Greening (Deck 84), Jay Prisco (Bogart’s) and David Innes (group pastry chef) collaborated on a “Fresh from Florida” dinner for 80 Big Apple foodies at the former residence of American cuisine maven James Beard, whose foundation invites some of the best chefs in the country to come to New York and show off their stuff.
For a foodie mecca, the Beard House is surprisingly modest, recognizable only by a small brass plate at the front door. The kitchen is no bigger than the average Boca Raton walk-in closet; the dining rooms are small and scattered on the building’s first and second floors. I’ll give you an up close and personal look at just what it takes to cook at the Beard House in a coming issue of the magazine. But until then here are some photos and a few of my favorite dishes.
Of the munchies, passed out in the Beard House’s cozy glass-ceilinged atrium, the sweet-tart-spicy peppadew peppers stuffed with creamy Laura Chenel goat cheese were almost impossible to stop eating. The conch and shrimp fritters, made with hand-ground Key West pinks and conch and served with a tangy Key lime remoulade, were impossible to stop eating (though I grudgingly did stop after three).
Paella with butter-poached spiny lobster, Key West pink shrimp, black grouper, chorizo, clams and braised chicken channeled Spain by way of South Florida. But the star for me was the Jackman Ranch Wagyu beef tenderloin, as deeply flavorful as it was impressively tender, paired with bacon-braised kale and a Florida corn bread pudding that alone was worth the price of admission.
Good stuff, and congrats to Burt and all the chefs.