James Beard Foundation president Susan Ungaro, Jacques Pépin, and Carla Hall at the kick-off.
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On the Road Again

Meryle Evans - September 2013

New York City—At the James Beard House kick-off party announcing Taste America, the foundation’s all-star food festival that’s taking place in 10 cities this fall, honorary star chef Jacques Pépin remarked nostalgically, “I know that Jim Beard would have adored traveling to all the cities to share the bounty of America with our Taste America chefs.”

For this reprise of the organization’s 2007 road tour, a bevy of Beard-anointed all-star chefs and local luminaries will create unique benefit dinners on Friday nights in September and October, celebrating the variety and diversity of our nation’s cuisine.

The dinners in each city differ as to theme, location, and cost. At Union Station in Los Angeles, $185 will buy a ticket to a food truck reception, followed by a seated dinner in the station’s Grand Concourse, hosted by Chicago’s Rick Bayless, while at Union Station in Chicago, a “Journey Through the Great Lakes” feast of regional specialities, with tickets at $350, will be headlined by Andrew Zimmerman of Sepia and TV’s Top Chef All-Stars winner Richard Blais, with a supporting cast of home-based virtuosos like Gale Gand (Tru) and Tony Mantuano (Spiaggia).

Other off-beat venues include The Ancient Spanish Monastery in Miami, a reconstructed 12th century Spanish cloister, where Food Network star Ted Allen will co-host with Norman Van Aken. Due north in Beantown, diners can sign up for “The Chef’s Table,” a gala provincial style dinner in the 19th century Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts, helmed by Michael Voltaggio (Ink, Los Angeles), with Bostonians Lydia Shire and Brooke Vosika.

Masaharu Morimoto will preside poolside at Las Vegas’ Mirage, while Suzanne Goin leaves Los Angeles for dinner under the stars at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona. At the Philadelphia Food Evolution in that city’s Pêche, Bravo Top Chef Carla Hall and the next generation of luminary chefs will be greeting $200 ticket holders, as well as $500 VIPs who have the additional opportunity to mingle with legacy chefs like Georges Perrier and Susanna Foo.

New York City’s Wylie Dufresne, of WD-50 and Alder, is heading to the St. Regis in San Francisco, switching coasts with that city’s Daniel Patterson of Coi, who will be cooking in Manhattan at Tom Colicchio’s Riverpark.