Italian Embassy Hosts Beard Fundraiser
Last Friday, the James Beard Foundation gathered D.C.’s top chefs and 250 guests at the Italian Embassy for a night of fundraising and first-rate food.
An organization dedicated to supporting the development of young chefs and recognizing the achievements of established cuisiniers, the James Beard Foundation is in the middle of a marathon fundraising tour, Taste America, visiting 10 cities from Sept. 20 through Oct. 19. Their D.C. stop assembled the city’s premier culinary talent for a multicourse meal featuring menu items by Chef Scott Drewno (the Source), Todd Gray (Equinox), Mike Isabella (Graffiato, Kapnos) and James Beard Award Winners R.J. Cooper (Rogue 24) and Sean Brock (McCrady’s and Husk).
Brock contributed his Heritage Pork Belly with farro, huckleberries, benne and matsutakes. For Brock, food always comes with a side of culture. “Every meal should tell a story,” said Brock. “This meal says a lot about where I grew up, the low-country traditions of Southern Virginia and North Carolina.” Brock said that he felt extra confident in the quality of his pork because it was raised by his childhood best friend.
Susan Ungaro, president of the foundation, called the event a “melting pot of chefs,” a chance for chefs to share their philosophy on food with each other and with guests.
In addition to celebrating food for food’s sake, the evening also honored Ambassador Capricia Marshall, former U.S. Chief of Protocol, for her role in launching the “Diplomatic Culinary Partnership,” a program that involves U.S. chefs in foreign relations, sending them overseas for goodwill tours or having them prepare meals for visiting dignitaries. The program’s brand of gastronome diplomacy seeks to forge partnerships over food and the bonds experienced through coming to table for a shared meal.
Money raised from the Taste America tour will go to fund scholarships and educational opportunities for young and emerging chefs.