James Beard, though he was never a professional chef, has had a greater influence on American cuisine than any other kitchen guru. (Yes, even Julia.) Largely that’s because of the James Beard Foundation, an organization founded more than 30 years ago in memory of the genial chef. The JBF, of course, annually presents the most prestigious awards in the American culinary world, but it has also created signature initiatives like the Women’s Leadership Programs, aimed at addressing the gender imbalance in the culinary industry; advocacy training through a Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change; and the James Beard Foundation Leadership Awards.

Plus, it hosts chefs from around the country to cook at Beard house—an opportunity regarded as a high honor.

james beard houseHigh West’s James Beard Dinner Led by Executive Chef Michael J. Showers, the unforgettable evening will take place at the James Beard House in New York City on Friday, November 8, at 70 p.m. Secure your reservations here. Menu below.

This fall, High West‘s kitchen, led by Executive Chef Michael J. Showers, will head to New York City to present Utah cuisine paired with their spirits for an exclusive dinner on Friday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m.  If you’re going to be in NYC or can manage to be there, dinner at Beard House is a unique occasion. And check out the menu at the bottom of this post.

Equally—maybe more—exciting is JBF’s recent announcement about changes in the culinary map used to determine the winners of their annual chef awards. (Utah has had several semi-finalists in the ranking (Jen Castle and Blake Spalding of Hell’s Backbone Grill, John Murcko, then at the Farm, etc.), but never a winner. 

For years, the New York-based organization has grouped together areas that deserve separate recognition—somewhat resembling the perspective of artist Saul Steinberg’s famous map of the U.S. To a Western food writer like me, the idea of lumping Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Oklahoma into a single culinary region is not only meaningless, it’s insulting.

Now Texas is its own region, as is California, but more importantly for Utah, JBF has designated a new Mountain region: Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, Colorado and Utah. 

The new regions go far towards leveling the playing field—but as American cuisine grows and improves, even these divisions may prove to be too general.

Bon appetit, America. 

High West’s James Beard Dinner Menu

Cocktails & Hors D’oeuvres

  • Ginger & Duck Meatball, Whiskey Fish Sauce Caramel
  • Kumquat & Mustard Marmalade, High West Ash & Barley Cheddar, Crumb Brothers Rye
  • Porcini & Chanterelle Mac ‘n Cheese with Italian Truffle
  • American Prairie Compressed D’Anjou Red Pear with Sesame & Nori
  • High West Old Fashioned Old Fashioned
  • High West Rendezvous Rye, Double Rye!, Demerara, Angostura, Orange, Lemon
  • Wand’rin Star
  • High West Double Rye!, House Made Campfire Drambuie, Ramazzotti, Angostura, Grapefruit

Bread & Butter

  • Caraway Parker House Roll & Gold Creek Butter

Trout and Caviar

  • Rye Barrel Smoked Birch Springs Trout and its Caviar, Green Apple & Jalapeño
  • Paired with High West Double Rye!

 

Fried Rabbit & Waffle

  • Buttermilk Fried Rabbit, Malted Barley, Sorghum & Rosemary Waffle, Maple & Sweet Chile Syrup
  • Paired with High West Valley Tan

Autumn Harvest Salad

  • Pickled Acorn Squash & Beets, Smoked Date Conserve, Chickweed, XO Vinaigrette

“Corned Beef & Cabbage”

  • Niman Ranch Bavette, Tallow Fried Heirloom Potatoes, Creamed Napa Cabbage, Sauce Au Poivre
  • Paired with “Le Bouvier” Cocktail – High West American Prairie Bourbon, Cognac, Yellow Chartreuse, Fino Sherry, Orange, Cherry

Huckleberry Posset

  • Spruce & Late Harvest Huckleberry Posset, Brown Butter, Oat & Pine Nut Shortbread
  • Paired with High West Midwinter’s Night Dram