The Hamptons culinary event of the summer, James Beard Foundation’s Chefs & Champagne, brought out nearly 1,000 supporters – who were delighted to revel in this year’s guest of honor: Padma Lakshmi, host and executive producer of Bravo’s James Beard Award-winning and Emmy awarding-winning Top Chef.
Held at Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, guests were able to visit with over 35 chefs from around the country who presented a plethora of indulgent dishes – like Top Chef alum Gregory Gourdet’s Grilled Oregon Albacore with Lemongrass, Galangai, Chile, and Lime, Jason Weiner’s Raw Striped Bass with Garlic Scape – Kimchi Mayonaise, and Stephan Borgardus’ Corn Soup with Truffles. There was also flowing Champagne Boizel, and wines and ciders from Wölffer Estate Vineyard, of course.
“This year’s summer fundraiser had the greatest impact yet,” said Clare Reichenbach, CEO of the James Beard Foundation. “The annual event exemplifies our continued commitment to create exceptional experiences all in support of the Foundation’s mission to change the world through food.”
This year’s event was particularly momentous for JBF as it also paid tribute to the organization’s yearlong RISE celebration, which recognizes chefs that are spearheading the effort to create a more equitable food world. In support of that notion, for the first time ever, all seafood served at the event was sustainable. JBF also donated the extra bounty from Chefs & Champagne to Rethink Food NYC, a food rescue non-profit that took the leftovers and transformed them into ready-to-eat meals for those that are food insecure.
“It was fantastic to honor Padma Lakshmi, and to recognize her inspiring contributions to the culinary community,” Reichenbach added. “We are also hugely grateful to all the amazing chefs and attendees who raised funds in support of the Foundation’s programs to create a better food world.”
The spectacular silent auction alone – which included one-of-a-kind dining experiences, wines and spirits, cookware, and culinary travel packages, raised over $100,000.
“This is a very special day for the James Beard Foundation. We have been doing it for 26 years now. We love our partners!” Marilyn Platzer, James Beard Foundation Chief Financial Officer and Chief of Staff, told Hamptons.com. “This is just a day to have some of the wonderful chefs who support us so wonderfully to be here together sharing their best foods and have people from near and far enjoy every bit with us.”
Chefs & Champagne also shined a spotlight on Franco Fugel, the 2018 Christian Wölffer Scholarship winner. The Scholarship, which was established in 2006, assists students in their study of food and wine. Since its inception, JBF has awarded more than $8 million to over 2,000 scholarship winners.
2018 featured chefs included Alex Baker, Yves, NYC; Emma Bengtsson, Aquavit, NYC; Stephan Bogardus, The North Fork Table & Inn, Southhold, NY; Janine Booth and Jeff McInnis, Root & Bone, NYC and Stiltsville Fish Bar, Miami Beach, FL; Peter Botros, The Stone House at Clove Lakes, Staten Island, NY; PJ Calapa, Scampi, NYC; Adrienne Cheatham, Sunday Best Dinner Series, NYC; Michael Corvino, Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room, Kansas City, MO; Pastry Chef Jessica Craig, L’Artusi, NYC; Suzanne Cupps, Untitled at the Whitney, NYC; Georgette Farkas, Rotisserie Georgette, NYC; JBF Award Winning-Pastry Chef Claudia Fleming*, The North Fork Table & Inn, Southold, NY; Tom Fraker, Melissa’s Produce, CA; Nicole Gajadhar, Saxon + Parole, NYC; Gregory Gourdet, Sage Restaurant Group, Portland, OR; Joseph Gurrera, Citarella, Bridgehampton, East Hampton, and Southampton, NY, Greenwich, CT; and NYC; Patti Jackson, Delaware and Hudson, Brooklyn, NY; Jimmy Lau, Shuko, NYC; Mina Newman, Sen Sakana, NYC; Ayesha Nurdjaja, Shuka, NYC; Chintan Pandya, Rahi, NYC;; Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli, Don Angie, NYC; Michael Ronzino, Wölffer Kitchen, Sag Harbor, NY; Laëtitia Rouabah, Benoit Restaurant and Wine Bar, NYC; Surbhi Sahni, Saar Indian Bistro, NYC; Barbara Sibley, La Palapa, NYC; Roxanne Spruance, Kingsley, NYC; Chris Starkus, Urban Farmer, Denver; Nick Stefanelli, Masseria, Washington, D.C.; Hillary Sterling, Vic’s, NYC; Audrey Villegas, 2 Spring, Oyster Bay, NY; Jason Weiner, Almond, Bridgehampton, NY and NYC; Mathew Woolf, The Rainbow Room, Bar SixtyFive, NYC; and Emily Yuen, Bessou, NYC.
“We really enjoy the combination of pleasure and purpose that it brings to us,” Platzer added.
For more information, visit www.jamesbeard.org.