Every self-respecting food nerd is familiar with the James Beard Foundation (JBF)—the New York-based organization that acts as the arbiter of good taste when it comes to dining out in America. Winning one of the non-profit’s annual James Beard Awards puts a restaurant on the map nearly as fast as a Michelin star.
So the question is not why should you go to the JBF’s Taste America: Seattle dinner, but why would you ever miss it?
To be fair, the October 13 dinner is not a cheap ticket. At $275 a seat ($375 for VIP), it’s more than you’d likely spend on dinner anywhere around town. But the meal is a veritable who’s who of JBF winners and nominees under one roof—the roof of the Fairmount Olympic Hotel. Reception bites will be made by Josh Henderson (Westward, Scout, Quality Athletics, etc.), Nathan Lockwood (Altura), Maximillian Petty (Eden Hill), Holly Smith (Cafe Juanita) and Rachel Yang (Joule). Chefs Paul Shewchuck (Fairmount Olympic Hotel), Matt Dillon (Sitka & Spruce), Ashley Christensen (Poole’s Diner, etc.), and pastry chef Baruch Ellsworth (Canlis) will each be preparing a dinner course.
You’re likely familiar with most of these names, but Seattleites should be particularly excited to taste the food of visitor Ashley Christensen, who is the chef/owner behind six Raleigh, N.C., restaurants, with a pizza place on the way. She won Best Chef: Southeast in 2014.
“The James Beard Foundation does such a fantastic job in creating a network for chefs across the country, and gives us the chance to meet folks in our field that we might not otherwise cross paths with,” Christensen says. “With regard to this dinner, I jumped at the chance to cook in Seattle. I’ve always been drawn to Seattle’s restaurant scene: there are so many fantastic places to eat. I have lots of admiration for chefs like Tom Douglas, Renee Erickson and Matt Dillon, who all have unique approaches to creating different channels for feeding their community.”
The Taste America series will hit 10 U.S. cities. Tickets will definitely sell out for this one—if you miss it, make sure you hit the Sur la Table in Kirkland on Saturday, October 14, for free cooking demos with chefs Dillon and Yang.