Central Florida's chefs aren't worthy of James Beard Awards -- or, this year, even nominations -- but apparently they're good enough to cook for the ones who are.
Hari Pulapaka, chef and co-owner of Cress restaurant in DeLand, has been invited to cook at the reception following the James Beard Awards presentation in Chicago on May 7.
This year's theme for the gala is Rise, which I assumed had something to do with baking bread. But no. According to a release from the organization, Rise "celebrates the community of chefs who rise to the occasion—whether to feed those in need, to stand up for what they believe in, to support their local communities, or to express their personal stories through their cooking."
Pulapaka certainly qualifies. He and his wife and co-owner, Jenneffer, hosted the Solidarity Sunday dinner that was held on the street in front of the restaurant and featured foods from nations that had earlier been designated shithole countries.
He will be cooking alongside other chefs from around the country who have participated in the Beard Foundation sponsored Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change. Pulapaka's theme is I Rise for Humanity. His dish is Lionfish Bhel Puri, inspired by his hometown of Mumbai.
Central Florida had no nominees for this year's Beard Awards, although Pulapaka has been nominated four times in the past.
Others cooking at the gala include: