If you don’t know—though if you’re a food and drink lover, you probably do—the James Beard Foundation (JBF) has an annual awesome cross-country series called Taste America, and they’re returning to Seattle again this year October 3-5. This year, they’ve expanded to 20 cities in total, all celebrating our country’s vast culinary culture while promoting what they’re calling Good Food For Good, or “making incredible dishes in a sustainable and equitable way.” Also, for the first time, this year they’re celebrating our drinking culture, too, with a new event called Raising the Bar.
Raising the Bar kicks off the whole weekend, like a good happy hour should, at Block 41 (Belltown, 115 Bell St.) on Thursday, October 3 at 6 p.m. Now normally, we wouldn’t ask that you make plans this far in advance, but tickets (starting at $295 and available here) are flying out the door—they went on sale Monday and there’s a real danger of this selling out soon. At the event, you’ll be part of a cocktail party where you can chat with some of our top local bartenders and sip on an array of cocktails they’ve designed. The lineup of star shakers includes Amanda Reed from downtown’s Heartwood Provisions, Niles Peacock from Edmonds’ 190 Sunset, and more that will be added as the date nears. In addition, you’ll be able to sample bites made by Seattle area JBF-recognized chefs, including Heartwood’s Kimberley Coswell, Josh Delgado of Le Coin, Brian Clevenger of General Harvest Restaurants (Raccolto, Vendemmia, the new Haymaker in West Seattle, etc.) and Ethan Stowell Restaurants’ Nicole Matson. Guests will also have the opportunity to pick up tips from the bartenders and chefs on how to better create a sustainable food world, beginning in your own kitchen and bar.
And while it’s going to be a fantastic time for attendees, those making the drinks and food are looking forward to it, too. Reed told us, “I am so honored and thrilled to mix drinks for the JBF Taste America Raising the Bar event. I really love the focus on sustainability in kitchens and bars; it's a practice that is near and dear to me.” It’s too early to tell what sort of special ingredients she’ll use for her cocktail that night, but she did let us know that, “my cocktail for the event will be concocted using seasonal ingredients that I will be sourcing from one of our local farms, and it will be fresh with a good balance of sweet and savory flavors.” But you’ll have to attend to find out more—and to sip it.
Taste America Seattle isn’t just about the cocktails, of course. On Friday the fun continues with the big Gala Benefit Dinner happening at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel. The dinner boasts a silent and live auction, a whole bunch of Western Washington’s top chefs delivering deliciousness (highlighted by local all-star Joule and Revel’s Rachel Yang), Taste America’s visiting all-star chef and James Beard Award Winner Kwame Onwuachi from D.C.’s Kith/Kin and more. The evening includes a pre-dinner reception followed by a three-course menu and desserts. Then, on Saturday, the JBF is showcasing its educational programs with a cooking demonstration from one of the all-star chefs. Get more information on everything here.