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Park City Chefs Show Off Utah At Sold Out James Beard Event

Five Park City chefs are in New York City preparing for a sold-out dinner at the prestigious James Beard House Thursday night. For three of them, it’s their first time to be invited – for all of them it’s a chef’s dream come true. Leslie Thatcher has more.Preparation for Thursday's dinner for 74 at the historic James Beard House started about a year and a half ago, when the Park City Area Restaurant Association approached the James Beard Foundation with an idea - an all Park City dinner. Association Director Ginger Ries says the response was enthusiastic - in fact, the foundation told her it was the most amazing proposal they had seen.

Ries got to work and sent out a request to all of their restaurant members to participate – 12 responded – a local committee narrowed the number to five. 

Each of the five award-wining chefs will lead a course, but all will be helping each other get the food from the small residential kitchen to tableside.

In addition, two bartenders from High West Distillery will be joining the Park City contingency preparing two signatures cocktails that will be served with the opening course.

Chef and owner of Tupelo, Matthew Harris, is preparing both the hors d'oeuvres and dessert for the event, starting with three different canapes featuring Utah Green River melon, sunburst tomatoes and hops smoked Utah trout.

 Deer Valley Food and  Beverage Director Jodie Rogers is presenting the first course -  Soup and Salad – a taste of each in every bite, that is served with a spoon.

“We couldn’t decide if we wanted to do a soup or a salad, right so we put them together and we have a snap pea soup with duck confit and we have assorted fall mushrooms and then fall greens and its all in a wasabi vinaigrette, wasabi yogurt, edamame and a lot of other fun stuff.”

The second course is presented by Handle Chef and Partner, Briar Handly, Smoked Parsnips.

"It’s kind of our twist on bacon if you will -  so we treat it just like bacon. We cure it overnight, smoke it, sear it, cook it basically, in  apple cider, cherry vinaigrette and a bit of maple syrup. It’s  completely 100% vegan  - no dairy, no gluten - a really nice vegetarian option. So smoked parsnip. We’ve got some really nice roasted beets on there, some picked red onion -  like a plum and rose gel on the bottom and I puffed up three different kinds of grains, rice, sorghum and amaranth and that will be sprinkled on top. And we also add some seeds - some black sesame, onion seed a little flax and coriander fennel seed.”

The third course is presented by Zane Holmquist – the Vice President of Food and Beverage and Corporate Chef for the Stein Erickson Lodge. He is serving up Braised Rabbit Leg and Rabbit Porchetta -  a variation of the traditional Italian dish.

"We actually bone the whole rabbits out and then we will stuff them with foie gras. We roll them up and cool them whole so now it looks like a big  rabbit sausage. And we braise those and slice them and then we braise the legs and  pull the leg meat shred it and then finish that with some fall mushrooms, some chanterelles…”

Riverhorse on Main Executive Chef and Owner Seth Adams rounds out the main portion of the meal.

“44 Farms is a beef company we work with out of Texas, so they’re family owned, great cattle. And so, we paired ours with a short rib with huckleberries that we get locally and king trumpet mushrooms that are grown locally as well and then a creamed spinach. And oxtail. So, we just kind of put together a turf and turf."

For dessert, Chef Harris is back with Grilled Figs with goat’s milk ricotta and honeycomb. 

This is a repeat visit to the James Beard House for both Chefs Holmquist and Adams. James Beard was an American cook, author, and television personality who mentored generations of professional chefs. His home in Greenwich Village has been preserved  as North America’s only historic culinary center and has become a gathering place where the press and the public can appreciate the talents of emerging and established chefs.

Even as an established chef, Jodie Rogers admits she’s a bit nervous about her first trip there.

“ There’s a lot of talent that goes through the James Beard House and so I’m  just hoping to keep up the standards and it’s really for me, one of the highlights of my career.”

And for Brian Handley, it’s a dream come true.

“I think for any chef that does what we do, day in and day out, I think it’s one of the biggest honors out there. It’s something I’ve always dreamed about as a chef and I mean just to go with the group of chefs that I’m going with is such an honor. I’m so excited.”  

Tickets to the exclusive Park City James Beard dining event sold out within a week.