Sometimes people ask me how I can stand to live in New York City. The noise, the crowds, the relentless pace of it all. One of my answers is serendipity, how unexpected things can pop up that take me in a new direction. Waking up and not knowing what the day will bring. It’s one of the most satisfying things about being a freelancer, that each day can be different from the last.
Late in 2018, I received an e-mail from an editor at Palm Springs Life magazine, asking if I was free on a date in December to cover a food-related event. That event turned out to be an evening at the James Beard House, the American cook, television personality, and cookbook author’s once private home that now hosts the not-for-profit James Beard Foundation.
The foundation regularly invites chefs to visit, cook, and share ideas through dinner parties that are open to the public within this storied Greenwich Village townhouse. One Saturday night in December, five chefs from around Greater Palm Springs took charge of the legendary Manhattan kitchen and I showed up with my notebook to capture the event. (The feature article is here).
The townhouse is located at 167 West 12th Street; it’s easy to walk right past as only a small sign separates it from the surrounding residential buildings. After checking in with the host (and checking out some of Beard’s original books and photographs on display), hungry diners move through Beard’s kitchen into a reception room, catching a glimpse of the chefs in mid-concentration preparing the evening’s several courses.
During the warm months, canapés and drinks are served in the back garden to begin the evening, but in December strangers crowd into a small back reception room for the first bites. This encourages interaction, as people standing shoulder-to-shoulder find themselves in unexpected conversations with fellow food lovers. Unlike your typical restaurant experience in New York, a night at the Beard House is surprisingly interactive.
Take a look at my feature in Palm Springs Life to read about the rest of the evening at the James Beard House.