DC Chefs Take Over James Beard House

The evening's featured chefs on the front row: Shannon Overmiller, Kyle Bailey, Tiffany MacIsaac, Javier Romero, Will Artley and Justin Bittner.
Photos by Geoff Motram for the James Beard House

On a quiet, unassuming street in New York's Greenwich Village sits the brick home of James Beard. To be asked by his eponymous foundation to cook at the house is an honor most chefs dream about. Last week, some of DC's top culinary talents had that chance. Lucky me was invited to attend.

The Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, known for the annual Rammy awards, put together a great event featuring winners and nominees from the Rammy rising star, pastry chef and hottest bar scene categories.

As I raced from a delayed train just in time for the cocktail hour, the evening kicked off with a slew of creative drinks created by the mixologists at Bourbon Steak, Chef Geoff's, Estadio, Masa 14 and PS 7's, the Rammy hottest bar scene contenders.

Meanwhile, in the rather tiny James Beard House kitchen, six DC chefs worked intensely to coordinate a multi-course meal for guests.

Once we were seated in the dining room, a snug space that sits just in front of what was once Mr. Beard's raised platform bed (complete with mirrored ceiling), dinner began with Neighborhood Restaurant Group pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac's delicious pretzel rolls and fresh baked breads.

Javier Romero of Taberna del Alabardero served marinated sardines with roasted peppers and cauliflower emulsion, followed by a she-crab soup with brioche crackers and tomato marmalade from Shannon Overmiller of The Majestic.

Will Artley of Evening Star Café represented the mid-Atlantic with crispy Virginia rockfish with succotash and a near-caramel-like carrot emulsion. Next up was Birch and Barley's Kyle Bailey with a dish of tender ricotta cavatelli with braised lamb neck, fava beans and Manchego.

Rounding out the main courses was a slow-roasted pork loin with summer vegetables, baby potatoes tourné and Burgundy sauce prepared by Justin Bittner of Bar Pilar. The meal ended on a sweet and summery note with MacIsaac 's blueberry tart with sweet corn ice cream.

It was impressive to watch six chefs with such different cooking styles create a cohesive meal, and I was thrilled to be a guest at the storied house. Check out upcoming events at the house, including an Aug. 23 dinner with Graffiato's Mike Isabella, on the James Beard Foundation's site.