Central Florida Chefs Prepare for Tonight's James Beard House Dinner

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NEW YORK -- 1:45 p.m. Tonight’s the night when five Orlando chefs will present a Central Florida Inspired Dinner at the prestigious James Beard
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From left, Jamie McFadden, Julie Petrakis (moving out of the shot), Scott Copeland, and Kevin Fonzo with back to the camera in the Beard House kitchen.
House on W. 12th Street in New York’s Greenwich Village. Jamie McFadden of Cuisiniers Catering, Kevin Fonzo of K Restaurant, Scott Copeland of Antonio’s La Fiamma, and James & Julie Petrakis of the Ravenous Pig have been in the kitchen preparing the dinner since 8 a.m. Also with them is Nick Sierputowski, sous chef for the Petrakises. Most of them have been in town since Sunday, visiting other restaurants and shopping in the markets -- but mostly just waiting for today to arrive.

The Central Florida chefs are finding out just how small a Manhattan kitchen can be. The Beard House is the actual townhouse where the renowned cookbook author and culinary educator lived. A foundation was formed after his death and the home now houses its offices. The kitchen occupies the lower level. Guests for the house’s dinners will be seated on  the second level of the four-story building in what used to be the living room and bedroom. Space is tight, both in the dining area and in the kitchen.

 

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Julie Petrakis and Kevin Fonzo in the Beard House. Notice the world-map wall paper.
The kitchen is certainly larger than typical Manhattan kitchens, some of which have little more than a sink and a hotplate. But it is by no means spacious, and the chefs are having to practice impromptu choreography to avoid bumping into each other. Here the kitchen has been outfitted with professional grade appliances by Viking. Countertops are butcher block, and the walls are covered with world-map wallpaper that is more than a little world weary and worn. There is no pretty granite or tile; this is a working kitchen.

And from this kitchen will come, in just a few hours, a dinner that will feature many ingredients from Central Florida, all either carried by the chefs or shipped in ice packs via FedEx. Here’s tonight’s menu:

The James Beard House

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Central Florida
Inspired Dinner

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Hors d’Oeuvres

Miniature Biscuit B.L.T.s

Rabbit Terrine, Pickled Carrots

Winter Park Dairy Bleu Cheese Tart, Waterkist Tomatoes, Balsamic Caramel

Deviled Quail Egg, House-made Duck Ham, Rye Crostini

Grilled Florida Octopus, Romesco

Rotari Rose NV

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Dinner

Citrus & Coriander Cured Florida Cobia,
Orange Smoked Habanero Sorbet, Pickled Watermelon Relish
Rotari Spumante Metodo Classico

Zellwood Sweet Corn Veloute,
Florida Frog Leg & Oyster Hushpuppy
2008 Tolloy Sauvignon Blanc

St. Augustine Flounder, Hammock Hollow Gazpacho,
Fried Waterkist Farms Green Tomatoes, Canaveral Blue Crab
Tablas Creek 2008 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc

Palmetto Creek Farms Smoked Pork "Napoleon",
Deep Creek Ranch Chicken Fried Beef Tongue,
Local Duck Ballotine with Pickled Cherry Preserves
2008 Axis Zinfandel, Napa

Zellwood Corn Crepes, Florida Blueberry Compote, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
2010 Cigar City American IPA brewed with Florida Honey

I'll report back later as it gets closer to dinnertime.