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A James Beard Awards-Inspired Menu

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While the New York City blogging mafia can’t seem to stop talking about the raucous parties after Sunday night's James Beard awards, I was impressed with the food at the actual event. Here, I’ve assembled my favorite dishes into a dreamy, albeit somewhat eclectic, menu:


To start, I’d have Back 40’s lightly sweet strawberry Red and Black tequila cocktail with a black pepper-sugar rim.

Hors d’oeuvres:
Peter Hoffman (chef of Back 40 and Manhattan’s Savoy) would get a second slot on my menu: His rabbit roulade was tasty but the fava bean puree with mint served underneath was divinely creamy—I could eat that in a little shot glass like a pot de crème.

Maybe it’s overkill on the strawberries to start, but every great menu needs a little foie gras, right? I loved the foie gras canapé that Alex Guarnaschelli of Manhattan’s Butter restaurant served: the foie was bruleed until crackly and served with a strawberry compote and spicy arugula from Mountain Sweet Berry farm (well known for its piles of ramps in early spring on Wednesdays and Saturdays at Union Square’s Greenmarket).

First course:
Mark Sullivan’s (of Spruce in San Francisco) delicate spring vegetable braise and pistou was a welcome antidote to last night’s mostly fat-laden dishes. I’m sure my guests at the dream dinner would love the pretty mini vegetables and clean, herby flavors.

Second course:
Maricel Presilla’s slamming tamale was the star, with a line snaking far back from the table throughout the night. The sweet and smoky pork on top reminded everyone in New York why they MUST brave the PATH train and head to her Hoboken restaurants Cucharamama and Zafra. Her dish would surely take the main course slot on my menu.

Pre-dessert:
The anise hyssop and goat cheese sorbet duo served with tangy rhubarb from Bruce Sherman of Chicago’s North Pond restaurant would be just the thing to bring my guests back from a pork-induced coma.

Dessert:
I’d happily end the dinner with the sorbets, but my guests would probably love a few snappy pieces of Green & Black’s chocolate (Green & Black was a new JB Award sponsor this year).  My favorite?  The spicy ginger bar.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.