What Do You Get with a Pinch of Chicago, Dash of Hollywood (Florida) & Hint of New York City?
A Night of Culinary Delights Benefiting Friends of James Beard
By Marla Horn Lazarus
“These dinners are once-in-a-lifetime events! We want our guests to walk away,
feeling like they need to tell a few friends about their great experience.” – Chef Alex Becker
(Left to right) Chef Stephanie Izard, Ted Allen, Chef Alex Becker (Photo: Michael Pisarri)
For the third year, Kuro at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, celebrated its valued relationship with the James Beard Foundation by hosting its annual Friends of James Beard benefit dinner on March 2, 2018. The event welcomed national culinary talent on the heels of Kuro’s recent sold-out dinner at the distinguished James Beard House in New York City. Dinner featured five-courses prepared by Seminole Hard Rock’s Creative Culinary Director and Kuro’s Executive Chef Alex Becker and James Beard Award-winning Chef Stephanie Izard of Chicago restaurants: Girl & The Goat; Little Goat; and Duck Duck Goat. Emceeing the evening was guest of honor, multiple James Beard Award winner, cookbook author and Emmy Award-winning host of FoodNetwork’s “Chopped” and “Chopped Junior,” Ted Allen.
Tremendous preparation goes into this wonderful event. Chef Becker said, “It’s always exciting when it comes time to plan our James Beard Foundation events. It brings us joy to partner with a group that does so much for the culinary community. Our goal is to outdo the prior years, and continue to push the envelope.” Chefs collaborating brings out the best in both. Chef Becker gets to know the guest chef’s culinary expertise through a meeting of the minds and flavors. “We go back and forth with our favorites, piece them together like a puzzle and elevate each course to shine with every bite,” he said.
Chef Izard added, “I study the menu of the other chef and was excited that Chef Becker’s menu highlights flavors that match ones we use. It was easy to be inspired to create dishes to accompany his,” Izard said.
Chef Becker, known in South Florida for new-style Japanese cuisine, continued to bring his contemporary, artisanal fare to Kuro using locally sourced ingredients for dishes grounded in tradition, yet progressive in concept and execution. Chef Izard, a 2013 James Beard Award winner for “Best Chef: Great Lakes,” most recently competed in the Food Network’s “Iron Chef Gauntlet,” where she defeated Chefs Bobby Flay, Michael Symon and Masaharu Morimoto for the title of Iron Chef. She is passionate about the James Beard Foundation. “I especially admire the work they do through their scholarship programs. We have a member of our team that came through the foundation’s Women in Culinary Leadership Program.”
This year, guests experienced goat belly, seared tuna, poached hamachi and Japanese wagyu. Chef Becker said, “I was excited to see the reactions from diners once they saw how each dish was presented with our drink pairings.” Chef Izard, thrilled to include her dishes, said, “I made seared yellow fin tuna with pomelo vinaigrette, hoisin buttermilk dressing, togarashi and a sesame cracker as well as confit goat belly with goat dashi and puffed rice furikake.”
No Two Dinners Are Alike
At every James Beard dinner event, each guest chef brings something unique to the table and kitchen. Chef Izard said, “Everyone enjoyed a fun night of tasty food…maybe even a few dishes or ingredients they’ve never tried before.”
James Beard would have loved the Friends of James Beard Foundation because it continues to honor his legacy as a pioneering American home cook by sharing his vast culinary knowledge with curious food lovers everywhere. The foundation funds programs that inspire and support the next generation of chefs. “The JBF paves the way to educate chefs, playing a big role in the culinary world, giving us the ability to continue to elevate our culinary landscape,” Chef Becker said. The mission of the James Beard Foundation is to celebrate, nurture and honor chefs and other leaders, making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse and sustainable for everyone.