Archive for the ‘James Beard’ Category

James Beard Foundation Awards

May 13, 2007

When I was asked to shoot the Beard Awards, I was so excited. Tickets to this black tie affair cost anywhere from $400 to $2,500…and they paid me to come and eat! (as long as I took a few photos). It was quite an event- basically the Oscars of the food world. It was amazing to see so many foodies in one place, eating and talking about food. Does it get any better than that?

This was the first year it was held at Lincoln Center, and I think that made it a much bigger scene. On the red carpet, I was shooting next to The Today Show, who interviewed everyone from Wolfgang Puck to Thomas Keller. They were doing a story on how chefs have become celebrities, and asked everyone how they think this has happened. Most said because of the Food Network, and many mentioned how happy they were that there has been a return to the kitchen- something we haven’t seen since the 1950’s.

Martha Stewart was late and kept us waiting in the press line for over an hour. She finally arrived on the red carpet after announcing this year’s Rising Star Chef, David Chang, of Momofuku Noodle Bar (see above photo).

After 3 hours of awards, all the tuxedos and ball gowns flooded on to the 2 promenade levels of Avery Fischer Hall to eat and drink their hearts out. A few special people proceeded in to the VIP area for a sit down, several course meal (the $2,500 tickets), but most people roamed and chatted. Many of the top restaurants in the country had tables with little amuse bouches to nosh on as you mingled with the likes of Tom Colicchio and Daniel Boulud.

The best thing I tried was an olive oil bon-bon (see photo below), a hard crystallized ball filled with EVOO. It crunched and then popped in your mouth. Very surprising. On the main, the food and the presentation was pretty imaginative- I kept hearing everyone talk about the foie gras cotton candy. Also, it was a warm night, so on the veranda overlooking the Lincoln Center fountain, they served an amazing selection of wine, scotch, vodka and rum.

Overall- a fantastic event. I left drunk and full. I encourage you all to start saving so you can go next year!

To view this year’s winners, click here.

For more of my photos on the James Beard Website click here.

Pictured below: Bobby Flay, Katie Lee Joel (Top Chef), Wolfgang Puck, Daniel Boulud, Hannah Storm (the evening’s host), Padma Lakshmi (Top Chef), Thomas Keller, Tom Colicchio, Jean-Georges Vongerichten. (all photos © Erin Gleeson 2007).

Tamarind at the James Beard House

April 15, 2007

I photograph dinners at the The James Beard House in New York about once a month, and it’s quite a treat. If you ever have a chance to go, I’d highly recommend it. The Beard House is located in a great old brownstone on West 12th Street. The kitchen is small, but anyone who is invited to cook a meal there is honored. Chefs from the best restaurants in the country fly in to prepare a special meal for anywhere from 50-100 people, who have usually purchased tickets months in advance. This happens several times a week and is about $100 a head, depending on who’s in the kitchen.

This week I hung out in the kitchen for a few hours while the Chefs of Tamarind, an Indian restaurant in NYC, cooked for about 50 people. Having worked in restaurants, I know what a stressful place the kitchen can be. But the beauty of this kitchen is that the Chefs are always in a good mood and just so excited to be there that they’re happy to let guests come through and ask questions and even sample the goods. As a vegetarian, usually it’s a bit tricky for me at these things, but the Tamarind chefs were more than happy to make me something special- stuffed eggplant, one of the best Saag Paneers I’ve ever had (and I’ve been to India!), and these amazingly unexpected pasta-less dumplings.

The evening always begins with a champagne reception (outside in the garden if weather permits, otherwise in the atrium overlooking the garden) and then everyone moves upstairs to the dining room for several courses, which are always paired with impeccable wines (a rep from the winery usually talks about the selection). At the end of the meal, the Chefs come out and answer questions and talk about what has been prepared.

It’s a fun evening and a great alternative for a nice meal out. I encourage you all to try it!