As any Top Chef devotee knows, The James Beard Foundation—named for the famed cookbook author—is America’s leading culinary institution. A nod from them is like an Oscar … or at least a Golden Globe. And last night, the Foundation celebrated its 25th anniversary with a major truffle-themed blowout.
Three pounds of black truffles were consumed over the course of the night, dutifully imported by forager and CEO of Plantin, Christopher Poron. The feast itself was conceived by LA’s charming Patina executive chef Tony Esnault. It had been nearly ten years since he last prepared a dinner for guests seated in the rambling Beard House’s signature quirky fashion—some upstairs, some down—so the excitement was palpable among the foodie staff. Esnault, who earned three-Michelin stars while executive chef at Alain Ducasse at the Essex House and two at Ardour, is known for serving dishes that are as beautiful to look at as they are delicious to eat.
Last night’s truffle-themed extravaganza was no exception: The menu included courses like Duck Foie Gras and Artichoke with frisée and mâche truffle vinaigrette as well as Esnault’s famous Seasonal Glazed Vegetable Mosaic with black truffle condiment (it looked more like a work of contemporary installation art than something to eat). And lest you think the theme was abandoned come desert, Esnault didn’t disappoint: the Poached Pear and Brown Butter Cake was served with Black Truffle Ice Cream.