Dishing With James Beard Foundation President
Will Travel for Food
By Susan Ungaro
“Travel is an important part of my food life,” wrote James Beard in the introduction to one of our favorites of his many books, Beard on Food. I think many of us can relate to his sentiments when planning our vacations. In fact, whenever Beard traveled to a new city, the first places he visited were the food markets and local restaurants; not the museums and cathedrals. After all, what better way to experience a new place than through the cuisine or a dish in the place where it originated—and what better way to experience a city than to taste the best regional dishes from the best local chefs?
This inextricable link between travel and food inspires our national food tour, Taste America, which is entering its fourth consecutive year of bringing our Foundation around the country to shine a spotlight on some of our nation’s most dynamic food cities.
This year our honoree All-Star chef is multiple James Beard Award winner Tom Colicchio, who joined us at the James Beard House in New York City a few weeks ago to kick off the festivities for 2016, and from September 22 through November 5, we’ll be traveling to Boston; Charleston, SC; Chicago; Kansas City, MO; Los Angeles; New Orleans; Phoenix; Portland, OR; Twin Cities, MN; and San Francisco, with a team of All-Star chefs that includes Dan Barber, John Besh, Scott Conant, Amanda Freitag, Jose Garces, Alex Guarnaschelli, Stephanie Izard, Gavin Kaysen, Anita Lo, and Missy Robbins. These chefs will be traveling around the country, and each will be paired with a local chef in one of our Taste America cities.
In each city, we will also be hosting free cooking demonstrations and Q&A sessions with many of these chefs at select Sur La Table stores in those cities. Sur La Table will also hold cooking classes featuring recipes from the James Beard Foundation’s cookbook, James Beard’s All-American Eats, at select stores on the tour.
We’re so excited to be taking the James Beard House dining experience on the road again this year with such an incredibly talented group of chefs. I hope you’ll join us in a city near you! You can find out more about our events, including a full roster of participating chefs, at jbftasteamerica.org.
The JBF Restaurant Finder
Even if you can’t make it to one of our Taste America events this year, we’ve made it easier to find great restaurants whenever you travel. One of the first things I do when I go to a city is look up who all of the James Beard Award winners, nominees, and semifinalists are so I can visit as many of them as I can. I am thrilled that this information is now all in one place on our website so that anyone can do the same.
Be sure to check out jamesbeard.org/restaurant-finder the next time you’re planning a trip!
James Beard’s Sicilian-Style Tomatoes
As James Beard Foundation members know, as summer turns into fall, I look forward to eating tomatoes from my husband’s garden. While I love a simple tomato salad, I also love looking to James Beard’s books for different ideas about what to do with the tomatoes. In the headnote for this recipe, he writes that these tomatoes gently cooked with fresh herbs and spices are “unusually good,” and I have to agree.
6 firm, ripe tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon allspice
Remove the tops of the tomatoes and rub the tomatoes with salt. Lightly squeeze the tomatoes to loosen the pulp, then put them, cut-side-down, onto paper towels.
Pulse the oil, parsley, basil, garlic, cinnamon, pepper, and allspice in a blender or food processor to combine. Pour the mixture into a heavy skillet. Place the tomatoes, cut-side-down, into the mixture, and simmer over medium-low heat until cooked through but not mushy, about 30 minutes. Right the tomatoes and spoon the pan juices over them to serve.