Chef Jim Shirley shares a taste of Seaside at New York’s James Beard House By Kevin Boyle, Seaside Events Director
Seaside chef and restaurateur Jim Shirley and his team of chefs served a culinary feast at the James Beard House in New York City on Jan. 24. Partnering with Visit South Walton, Shirley presented a menu dubbed Modern Southern, featuring lion fish, Gulf red snapper, heritage pork, oysters, and carefully curated greens and spices. With the backdrop of the historic Greenwich Village, 55 diners enjoyed an intimate evening celebrating the food and culture of South Walton.
The James Beard Foundation’s mission is to celebrate, nurture and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone. Toward this end, chefs are invited to “perform” at the Beard House by presenting dinners to Foundation members and the public. The selection criteria to be invited to cook at these exclusive dinners at the Beard House include the chef’s national or regional reputation, known use of high quality, seasonal, and/or local ingredients, and thorough review of proposed event menu and wine list by the Beard House selection committee.
The logistics of bringing the menu and the team from Santa Rosa Beach to New York City was seamless, as the culinary group had gone through the same process two years prior with a Seaside, Florida-themed dinner called “The Seaside Culinary Edge.” Chefs toted expertly packed coolers of prepped items and other ingredients onto their flights to the Big Apple. Once there, the team finished prep and executed a flawless dinner.
Not only did Shirley’s team feature delicious food items, they also showcased the beverage talent of our area. The pre-dinner reception featured beer from Idyll Hounds Brewing Company and Grayton Beer Company, along with a delectable cocktail made with Dune Laker Vodka from Distillery 98.
The reviews of the dinner were unanimously positive, with diners raving about the complex flavors of each dish, including the lion fish cake with a red curry sauce, as well as the three-cowpea succotash Gulf red snapper topped with a brown butter vinaigrette. The crowd favorite in the end was the dessert course: blood orange pie and cornbread pudding served with Shirley’s famous Tarnation eggnog.
Editor’s Note: For details on the wine pairings Chef Shirley chose for the James Beard House dinner, see the wine column here.