My birthday was this last weekend. I still cannot believe I am 29! As a kid, I remember counting down the days until my birthday, but now, I’m frantically trying to cross things off my bucket list before the big 3-0.
In the days leading up to my birthday, Alex told me he had everything planned — but he refused to let me know what exactly we were going to do! For those of you who don’t know me… I absolutely hate surprises, and I am so not patient when it comes to not knowing what the plan is. Well, fast forward to February 3rd, and Alex had the absolute best birthday surprise.
We got off the subway at 14th Street and made our way to Greenwich Village. After walking by nearly every restaurant and bar, and then making our way down a residential street, I became so confused and thought Alex was pulling a joke on me. He then opened an unmarked door leading into an apartment building, and out of no where a hostess appeared. After giving our names, we were escorted through an open kitchen to a greenroom, where we were greeted with Mai Tai’s and hors d’oeuvres. In awe of the beautiful surroundings, I finally asked Alex where we were. He responded, The James Beard Foundation.
If you’ve never heard of The James Beard Foundation, here’s a little background: James Beard, known as the Dean of American Cookery, spent his life educating and mentoring generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts. In 1986, The James Beard Foundation was established in James’ home in Greenwich Village, and each year, The Foundation hosts over 200 dinners, featuring selected, acclaimed chefs from around the world. We were fortunate enough to attend Meet Me in Pittsburgh, featuring chef Jamilka Borges.
I’m not even sure how to convey how amazing this dining experience was. We don’t consider ourselves food enthusiasts, but from start to finish, our minds were blown by the presentations, smells, and flavors of all the delicious food and drink we experienced. Drinks by Hidden Harbor were paired with octupus emphanadillas, smoked bluefish croquettes, and lamb yuca pasteles.
After cocktails, we were escorted upstairs to the dining room, where we enjoyed five courses of amazingness — from sun choke custard to scallops, swordfish, and pork shoulder. Did I mention each course was paired with the most perfect and complimentary cocktail, beer, or wine? And, did I also mention how amazing desert was — kumquat with carrots with a coffee cocktail nightcap? Or how the entire dining room sang happy birthday to me?! I cannot wait to go back to The James Beard Foundation.
After dinner, Jamilka Borges, the chef, gave a brief presentation and took questions from the guests. It was amazing to hear Jamilka’s story and to see how much thought, effort, and time goes into the preparation and presentation of each course.
If you find yourself in New York City, definitely add The James Beard Foundation to your bucket list! While tickets are a bit pricey, you (and your stomach) will not regret the incredible food experience.
The James Beard Foundation
167 W 12th St.
New York, NY 10011