On Saturday, July 23rd, the sweltering heat didn’t stop over 1,000 guests from gathering at Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack to honor multiple James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef, author and restaurateur John Besh during the James Beard Foundation’s 26th annual Chefs & Champagne®.
It was Besh’s first time in the Hamptons and his visit exceeded his expectations. “It’s much better than I ever imagined, complete with just connecting with friends,” Besh told Hamptons.com. “Aarón [Sanchez] and I rented a house. We’ve been on the beach having fun.” The chef was beyond touched that James Beard Foundation picked him as this year’s honoree. “I’m really tickled to death to be here bringing all these great people together,” Besh explained. “There’s 40 chefs here tonight raising money for various scholarships. This is really great. Using food to do good and bring people together and have a great time, at the same time.”
Endless bubbly from Champagne Barons de Rothschild, along with wines and ciders from Wölffer Estate Vineyard, completed pairings from this year’s group of talented participants, which included Chad Brauze (The Back Room, Park Hyatt, New York City), Andrea Bucciarelli (Sant Ambroeus, New York City), Brian Cheewing (Wölffer Kitchen, Sag Harbor, New York), Christopher Cipollone (Piora, New York City), James Beard Award winner Tim Cushman (O Ya, Boston and New York City), Ben Del Coro (Fossil Farms, Boonton, New Jersey), Jay Ducote (Gov’t Taco, Baton Rouge, Louisiana), Aaron Fitterman (Aretsky’s Patroon, New York City), Jeremy Ford (Matador Room by Jean-Georges, Miami Beach, Florida), Tom Fraker and Marco Zapien (Melissa’s, Los Angeles, California), Eric Gabrynowicz (Restaurant North, Armonk, New York), Kerry Heffernan (Grand Banks, New York City), Will Horowitz (Ducks Eatery and Harry & Ida’s, New York City), Michael Jenkins (Butter Restaurant, New York City), JBF Award winner Paul Kahan and Perry Hendrix (Avec, Chicago), Pastry Chef Jiho Kim (The Modern, New York City), Paul Kim (Ice & Vice, New York City), Anthony Lamas (Seviche, A Latin Restaurant, Louisville, Kentucky), Matt Lambert (The Musket Room, New York City), Glenn Olsson and Marcus Widell (Swedish Culinary Summer, Sweden), Anita Lo (Annisa, New York City), Angie Mar (Beatrice Inn, New York City), Pastry Chef Alina Martell (Ai Fiori and Vaucluse, New York City), Lucero Martinez (Pampano, New York City), Dean James Max (DJM Restaurants, Multiple Cities, USA; Cayman Islands, BWI; and Harbor Island, Bahamas), Julian Medina (Toloache, New York City), Jonah Miller (Huertas, New York City), Marco Moreira and Sushi Chef Noriyuki Takahaski (15 East, New York City), Jon Nodler, Baker Alex Bois, and Pastry Chef Sam Kincaid (High Street on Hudson, New York City), Damien O’Donnell (Harbor Bistro, East Hampton, New York), Pichet Ong (a.p.g, New York City), Ralph Perrazzo (BBD’s – Beers, Burgers, Desserts, Rocky Point, New York), Guy Reuge (Mirabelle, Stony Brook, New York; and Sandbar, Cold Spring Harbor, New York), Roxanne Spruance (Kingsley, New York City), Cédric Vongerichten (Perry St, New York City), and JBF Award-Winning Pastry Chef Sherry Yard (iPic Entertainment), while the VIP After-Party featured bites by Chef Robb Garceau (Neuman’s Kitchen, Events & Catering, New York City).
“One of the most important goals in my winemaking is to be food friendly,” Roman Roth of Wölffer Estate Vineyard shared with us. “What better place to show the wines than here with fantastic chefs at Chefs and Champagne? We really can showcase why Long Island wines and Wölffer wines are so special and are versatile and go with different great dishes.”
The soiree also celebrated Evelyn Q. Grantm who was awarded the 2016 Christian Wölffer Scholarship and the ICC Intensive Sommelier Course tuition waiver, and multiple James Beard Foundation Scholarship recipient Christina Cassel.
In addition to satisfying guests sweet, savory and bubbly needs, Chefs & Champagne® highlighted fine-dining experiences, wines and spirits, cookware, and culinary travel packages during its silent auction, which raised over $75,000 in support the Foundation’s mission, educational and Impact Programs.
The New York City-based national not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization’s mission is “to celebrate, nurture, and honor America’s diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire.”
For more information, visit www.jamesbeard.org.