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Interview with Daniel: JBF Kitchen Cam Debuts with Boulud

Interview with Daniel: JBF Kitchen Cam Debuts with Boulud


On March 31st, the James Beard House debuted the JBF Kitchen Cam, livestreaming the frenetic kitchen preparations behind Dinner with Daniel, which celebrated the legendary French chef’s newest cookbook, DANIEL: My French Cuisine. As Boulud and his team put together several intricate courses in the tiny kitchen of the James Beard House, Daniel let me pester him with a few questions:

Tell me about how you came up with tonight’s menu.

The menu today is in celebration of my cookbook, DANIEL: My French Cuisine, and so it’s mostly dishes from the cookbook I wanted to highlight. The cookbook was representing a year at Daniel, so we chose some dishes that were within season right now.

Is this the first time that a high-end kitchen is being featured live on camera?

You know, maybe 12 years ago, I had a camera like this at Daniel, and people could go between seven and nine p.m. to see the live feed of the kitchen at Daniel. I killed the idea after about a week. Here it’s perfect in the Beard House, but in a restaurant with service and all that, it can get a little hectic.

Is there anyone you still find intimidating to cook for?

There are plenty of people that still make me nervous to cook for. It’s not anxiety, but certainly the awareness that it’s for so and so, and that they might be judging you. But usually I get my share of people being nervous to cook for me, so I kind of feel even on this one.

So it evens out for you.

Yes, exactly.

When I was tracking #JBFChat on Twitter I saw that you mentioned your grandma Francine and that you learned to love cooking from her. What are some of the things she taught you?

Not only did she cook everything we grew, but everything we raised, everything we killed, and everything we transformed. She was in charge of the cheese making and certain activities in the house, but mostly the cooking.

Did you ever cook for her?

No, because I was not asked to make my own recipes. I was asked to help, but I was young. I left home when I was 14. But when I was about 16 and a half, I cooked for my entire family and our neighbors. We were about 40 people and we had a big celebration in the house, on the patio. I cooked for our friends and family and neighborhood, and it was, I think the most nervous moment I ever had in my life because that was the first time that I was cooking the food I had learned to make from the restaurant where I was working. I was also improvising a little bit because we didn’t have the same equipment in the house.

I learned from your cookbook that you don’t like bananas.

No. But the pastry chef has total freedom to use banana if he likes.

Do you think there’s any way you'll try bananas again, or are you just not interested?

If I’m on a deserted island and I have to eat bananas only, I’ll eat bananas. I think I could do that.

What’s your favorite kind of mushroom?

Ovoli, I hope you can have some this year. They’re very hard to get, very rare, but they’re delicious. They are from Italy and France, mostly northern Italy.

Finally, how did you know that Aaron Bludorn was the right person for your new executive chef at Café Boulud? (On Friday, March 28th, Café Boulud’s Gavin Kaysen announced that he was leaving his position of executive chef to open his own restaurant in his hometown of Minneapolis.)

We had been working on the transition with Gavin for quite a while, so it was just a question of when he was ready to leave. Aaron has been working the kitchen with Gavin for a long time as the chef de cuisine already, so he’s going to have some more responsibilities. He’s been with me for six years and he knows me.

Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.


JBF Through the Years

Ever since Julia Child declared that &ldquoSomething ought to be done with Jim&rsquos house,&rdquo the James Beard Foundation has been at the center of American culinary life. Take a peek at our walk down memory lane below, and you&rsquoll see the Foundation&rsquos growing role as a supporter and leader in our collective gustatory zeitgeist. But after 30 years, the story of our nation&rsquos edible odyssey is far from over, which means it&rsquos time to strap on our aprons and head back into the kitchen. As our namesake said, &ldquoGoodness, how much there is to learn about food. Someday I hope to know something.&rdquo

January 21, 1985
James Andrew Beard dies of heart failure at the age of 81.

March 1985
Julia Child suggests, &ldquoSomething ought to be done with Jim&rsquos house.&rdquo Friend and former Beard student Peter Kump heeds her call and spearheads a fundraising campaign to purchase the James Beard House.

July 1986
The James Beard Foundation is officially incorporated.

January 21, 1987
Wolfgang Puck of Spago cooks the very first Beard House dinner. The menu includes winter greens sautéed with duck livers and grilled salmon with celery cream.

November 5, 1990
Tom Colicchio, then the chef at Mondrian in midtown Manhattan, cooks his first dinner at the Beard House. On the menu: lobster and artichoke salad with basil oil and chocolate ganache cake.

February 1991
JBF launches a scholarship program.

May 6, 1991
The first JBF Awards are held aboard the M.S. New Yorker. Writer George Plimpton hosts.

May 18, 1992
Time magazine deems the JBF Awards the "Oscars of the food world."

June 7, 2002
Marcus Samuelsson cooks his 10th dinner at the Beard House (he's now up to 25 appearances!).

April/May 2006
Susan Ungaro is named the new JBF president.

October 2007
The first James Beard Foundation&rsquos Taste America® festival takes place in 20 cities throughout the country.

August 20, 2009
JBF Award winner and renowned pork lover David Chang, chef of the Momofuku restaurants in NYC, cooks an all-vegetable dinner at the Beard House.

October 2010
The first JBF Food Conference is held at the Pew Center in Washington, D.C.

October 12, 2011
The inaugural JBF Leadership Awards are held at Hearst Tower. Honorees include First Lady Michelle Obama, Will Allen, and Janet Poppendieck.

February 24, 2012
JBF releases its first cookbook, The James Beard Foundation&rsquos Best of the Best, featuring recipes from the winners of the Foundation&rsquos Outstanding Chef award.

July 8&ndash10, 2012
More than a dozen chefs travel to Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee, for JBF&rsquos first Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change. Sean Brock and Michael Anthony are among the participants.

September 18, 2012
The Foundation launches the Women in Culinary Leadership program, which mentors and trains women who aspire to careers in the culinary industry.

March 31, 2014
JBF unveils the JBF Kitchen Cam, a live camera feed that captures the action in the Beard House kitchen. The inaugural broadcast features Daniel Boulud.

May 1, 2015
Expo Milan, the modern World&rsquos Fair, opens its six-month run. The Foundation is instrumental in the creation of the American Pavilion, which features a rotating lineup of JBF Award&ndashwinning chef dinners at the James Beard American Restaurant.

May 4, 2015
The James Beard Awards Gala takes place in the city of Chicago. It is the first time the ceremony is held outside New York City.

February 8, 2016
James Beard&rsquos All-American Eats, featuring tales and recipes from winners of the Foundation&rsquos popular America&rsquos Classics award, is published.

April 25, 2016
The Foundation announces the JBF Impact Programs, a commitment to establish a more sustainable food system through education, advocacy, and thought leadership.

August 18, 2016
The inaugural class of JBF National Scholars is announced. The program awards $20,000 scholarships to ten candidates across the country studying culinary arts, food studies, agriculture, hospitality management, and related fields.

October 14, 2016
JBF extends its partnership with Chicago&rsquos culinary scene by announcing that the Windy City will host the James Beard Awards through 2021.

January 27, 2017
A woman chef&ndashled benefit reception in Tiburon, CA, kicks off JBF&rsquos new leadership initiative, the Women&rsquos Entrepreneurial Leadership program, which targets gender imbalance in the culinary industry.

March 27, 2017
The Foundation&rsquos under-40 membership program, JBF Greens, expands to Chicago, offering curated food, drink, and cultural events to the city&rsquos young gourmands.

June 5, 2017
The Foundation announces the launch of the Smart Catch sustainable seafood national pilot, which provides guidance and tools to chefs to help them make better seafood sourcing choices.

September 10, 2017
21 women entrepreneurs from around the country gather at Babson College to attend the first-ever JBF Women&rsquos Entrepreneurial Leadership program retreat. The inaugural class includes Kathleen Blake and Amy Brandwein.

November 10, 2017
The Foundation honors JBF president Susan Ungaro at its annual gala for her 11 years of outstanding leadership.


Daniel Boulud

New Yorkers and holiday visitors are breathing a collective sigh of relief, now that Broadway producers and stagehands reached an agreement that lit the lights on Broadway once again. The good news is not only for the theaters, but for the restaurants as well, since they were all hurt by the strike. Do your part for the Broadway restaurants and get out there and EAT! To that end, here are some suggestions for some fantastic deals for dining on (or near) the Great White Way, which is finally dressed up in all its glory for the holidays.

In the heart of Hell's Kitchen and just steps away from the Theater District, Chef Roberto Passon serves up acclaimed homemade pastas and traditional Italian-style meat and seafood dishes with Italian passion and gusto. Enjoy the comfortable ambiance of this 225-seat popular restaurant at neighborhood-friendly prices, made even friendlier with a 20% off special offer.

Watch the Rockettes kick up their heels, and then head to this Rockefeller Center Steakhouse for what Crain's Bob Lape calls "the best rib-eye in New York." This Rockefeller Center steakhouse promises "to turn your ordinary occasions into extraordinary meals, and special occasions into affairs to remember." Enjoy a new interpretation of steakhouse classics, all at 20% off food.

This theater district favorite combines extraordinary Italian cuisine, exquisite décor with different themes for each of its many rooms and affordable prices. Home to one of the most beautiful interior gardens in New York City, Trattoria Dopo Teatro's 15% off offer is a hit.

Firebird Russian Restaurant

Housed in a lavish townhouse with over-the-top opulence, this "pre-Revolutionary" Russian restaurant has become a favorite destination for New York's theatergoers and visitors. The vodka list alone reads like "War and Peace" (don't THINK of missing the house-infused Honey Vodka) and the menu showcases the elegant delicacies of the Russian Empire.

This acclaimed Italian Broadway venue features a fireplace, a cozy large bar and brick walls, as well as a winning combination of Italian cuisine and an extensive Italian wine list. Add this great value special offer, and you can't go wrong.

Adjacent to the new Dream Hotel is this dreamy new restaurant created by SLDesign, who describes the bi-level space as "a hyper modern Baroque castle." The Mediterranean/New American menu by Chef Ivy Stark is offered as a 3-course lunch for $24.00, served 11:30AM- 2:30PM daily and a 3-course Pre-theater dinner for $42.00, served 5:00PM - 6:30PM nightly.

When the occasion doesn't quite warrant spending a month's rent on dinner but you still want a meal to remember, head for DB Bistro Moderne, sister restaurant to Daniel, Chef Daniel Boulud's signature space. DB Bistro's Prix Fixe menu offers an opportunity to try Chef Boulud's renowned cuisine for $48.00, and is served nightly (guests must be seated between 5:00PM & 6:00PM). DB also offers a 2-course lunch menu which ranges from $35.00 - $40.00 for an entree and choice of either dessert or appetizer.

The European-accented American menu isn't the only star at this Theater District venue as the restaurant has been since its 1999 beginnings, it's still a place to see and be seen. Upon its debut, Thalia received two stars from The New York Times, and continues to garner high marks in the Zagat Survey. This Pre-theater menu is served until 7:00PM for $35.00, and can be paired with a wine flight for $49.00.

Francophiles return again and again for the upscale French cuisine at bistro prices, especially with this extensive Prix Fixe Menu. Family-run for decades, the restaurant is now cooperatively owned by its workers, who say they "combine speed with elegance" before theater, and then "slow down after 8 o'clock" for a "warm and welcoming atmosphere." The Prix Fixe is the only dinner menu, and is filled with a large selection of French specialties.

Still owned by the family who founded this historic landmark in 1906, Barbetta serves Piemontese cuisine, with dishes described as "elegant yet . absolutely authentic." The Pre-theater menu consists of 24 different choices including dessert and coffee for $55.00, and is served in both the opulent dining room or, weather permitting, the romantic garden, complete with a fountain and century-old trees, and filled with the fragrances of flowering magnolia, oleander, jasmine and gardenia.

Acclaimed restaurateur, entrepreneur and television personality Barbara (B.) Smith boasts three successful restaurants - in Long Island Hampton's Sag Harbor and Washington, D.C. as well as her renowned venue on Restaurant Row in New York City. Here, the $30.00 Prix Fixe Dinner is served daily from 5:00PM - 9:00PM and the $19.95 3-course lunch menu is offered 11:30AM - 2:30pm Wed, Sat. & Sun.

One of The New York Times' "top picks," for "a menu and wine list that are decidedly unusual," this Lidia and Joseph Bastianich theater district stronghold touts the "Sinfonia di Pasta" Prix Fixe: a Caesar Salad or Antipasto Misto followed by unlimited servings of three pastas. This special is served for lunch ($16.95) and dinner ($21.95).

This Theater District mainstay has been a Broadway is truly one of the longest-running hits on (actually just off) Broadway. This Prix Fixe Menu offers three courses for $28.50, and is served all night long, every night.

Featuring the cuisines of Italy's Brescia and Amalfi Coast regions, Azalea is adorned with an 18-foot mahogany ceiling and selections from Georgia O'Keeffe's flower series. The menu combines the "rich, creamy sauces and hearty meats of Brescia" with "the fresh seafood and delicate fruits and vegetables of Amalfi," which can be sampled for $30.00 on Azalea's Pre-theater dinner menu, served 5:00PM - 7:00PM daily.

There's no place on earth quite like New York City at holiday time, and there's no better way to celebrate than by seeing a spectacular show and dining at one of the myriad restaurants the theater district has to offer. Within a few blocks of every Broadway theater, you can find a restaurant to fit virtually any budget and palate, so the only question is: What are you waiting for? Have a great time, a great meal, and a great holiday!

Top 10 MUSTS for Every Bachelor Pad

This is a MUST read for guys looking to attract a girlfriend into their lives. I wrote this some time ago, but it is still totally relevant and HELPFUL.

You might be the coolest guy in the world, with great stories, successful career, killer clothes and an awesome social life. However, if your home is not equipped with these 10 essentials, that smooth first impression you made will head south as fast as geese in a snowstorm.

A woman should be excited to see your home. She has enjoyed getting to know you, and is now open to taking things to the next level. She arrives at your door, hoping that you can provide a cool, comfortable and romantic experience. Follow these tips and you'll do that plus more.

1) Clean Bathroom. This is number one for a reason. Please, please don't let her walk in there and find no toilet paper. Right now, go to the bathroom. If you are down to one roll (meaning, the ACTIVE one) stop reading this and go to the store. Buy at least 6 rolls to have on hand. Also, she should never see hair shavings scattered in the sink and a black ring around the tub. She sees this. you never see her again.

2) An Unusual or Exotic Coffee or Tea. If she doesn't drink alcohol, she will really appreciate this touch. A good place to find either item is in a gourmet grocery store. Get fresh ground coffee or fresh tea leaves. Coffee in a can or tea bags doesn't cut it here.

3) Entertainment. No Barry White or Marvin Gaye, they are just beyond comical and cliché. Try Portishead, Coldplay or Ben Harper. Also, have at least half a dozen movies that you can pull out in a moments notice. You are looking for something that sets a romantic, yet fun mood. Here are some suggestions: Don Juan DeMarco, Annie Hall, There's Something About Mary, Arthur, Casablanca, Hitch, and Sidewalks of New York are all great options.

4) One Special Recipe. You don't need the cooking expertise of Daniel Boulud, but it is important, not to mention impressive, that you be able to prepare at least one good meal. After selecting your signature dish, consult the local wine shop for the perfect match. A suggestion: baked fish is simple, healthy, elegant, and can be combined with a light vegetable or two. Also, go the extra mile by buying a small, tasty tart or cake from the local bakery for dessert. The result: an unforgettable, gourmet meal that separates you from the pack.

5) Non-fluorescent Mood Lighting. Overhead lighting tends to wash-out color and feel stark. Have areas lit by lamps, adding to the romantic mood. Also, if you have a lava lamp, toss that in the garbage along with the tie-dyed t-shirts. Or, at least hide them in the closet.

6) Wine. Always have 2 bottles of wine on hand, one red and one white. No need to go overboard, but don't skimp either and buy "Boone's Farm". $20 per bottle is plenty. Also, be sure to own wine glasses. Have at least four on hand, as they break easily.

7) Hide the Video Games. Nothing says "lazy, loser, and adolescent" like an X-box on the floor in front of your TV. Video games are female repellant. Why? I'll never know. It's like trying to uncover the mystery of why girls go to the bathroom in packs.

8) Family Photo. Let her know you came from somewhere that you weren't dropped on earth last week in the bar where you met. It's certainly comforting for her to know this, but even better to SEE it. A solo picture of mom is a major plus here too.

9) Semi-Stocked Fridge. Make sure there is more than a bottle of ketchup and half a six pack of Bud. Have some snacks that you won't need to prepare. Ice cream, fresh fruit, chocolate, and cheese are all great, light foods. Also, for a sophisticated, simple snack try sliced tomatoes with basil and mozzarella. It bespeaks sophistication and intelligence, while not requiring hours of preparation.

10) Shorts and a Tee Shirt. Have a spare for her if she decides to stay over. Don't buy a pair of shorts with a size 25 waist she'll either think they're from a previous girl or that you're a player. Get one that would fit you, but with a drawstring very inconspicuous, and thoughtful.

Having a clean place can make up for a lack of any of these points. Keeping clean shows respect for your guests. At minimum, be sure the kitchen is clean with no old dishes in the sink, and no dirty clothes scattered on the floor. Most importantly - the bed MUST be made.

Overall your place needs to look neither fussy nor girly. This is a bachelor pad, so let it be obvious that a single man lurks within. Your place should reflect you and do so effectively. If you have any questions, invite a female friend over for lunch, and ask for her no-holds-barred opinion.

Be sure your home is inviting and comfortable for her first visit, so she wants to come back for a second.


Taste America with James Beard Foundation

America’s first television celebrity chef was Susan Ungaro, President of the James Beard Foundation, shares how James Beard’s legacy continues to educate and mentor generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts. You may not know that James Beard hosted the first cooking show on NBC in 1946 called I Love to Eat. In addition, James Beard championed fine American restaurants, including The Four Seasons Restaurant in New York City, which opened in 1959. This was the first restaurant in America to feature seasonal foods on the menu. How fascinating that before the morning shows had in-studio kitchens, the hosts would actually go to the James Beard House kitchen to film. These days, you can watch invited chefs cook in the James Beard House kitchen via the JBF Kitchen Cam

A photo of me with Susan Ungaro at The Culinary Historians of Chicago at Kendall College

This year, the James Beard Awards, known as “the Oscars of the Food World,” celebrated its 25th anniversary with the ceremony in Chicago. It was such a highlight in my own culinary journey to attend this festive gathering with my dear friend, Barbara Lazaroff Here is a list of this year’s winners of the James Beard Awards. How exciting that Chicago ranks second to New York City in having won the most James Beard Awards. Below are some fun “selfies” and photos with well known chefs and culinary personalities who attended this year’s ceremony in Chicago.

A selfie with Chef Daniel Boulud

A photo of me with Barbara Lazaroff and Don Welsh, President and CEO of Choose Chicago

The delicious celebrations continue with the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America! It’s a moveable feast! You can sample the delicacies at upcoming venues in Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Click here to purchase tickets! I will be attending the Chicago event and can’t wait to try Yuzo Kosho! Stay tuned for some fun pictures of that evening. Also, if you visit New York City, consider making a reservation to dine at the James Beard House. If you want inspiration in your own home and kitchen, check out the recipes on the James Beard Foundation’s website.

As James Beard said, “Food is our common ground.” In 2012, the U.S. Department of State partnered with the James Beard Foundation to launch the Diplomatic Culinary Partnership and created the American Chef Corps, a group of chefs who will act as food-focused statesmen to showcase American cuisine and ingredients around the globe. Susan Ungaro discusses the success of the Milan Expo 2015 and the James Beard Foundation’s pop-up restaurant JBAR in the U.S. Food Pavilion.

Susan Ungaro provides a sneak peek into the upcoming documentary about James Beard called America’s First Foodie. James Beard was teacher and mentor to the culinary greats such as Alice Waters, Wolfgang Puck, and Charlie Trotter.

I think it’s fitting to end this post with a quote by Julia Child, featured in the opening line of the film’s trailer, “In the beginning, there was Beard.”


Chef cam is live!

The James Beard Kitchen cam made its debut today with Daniel Boulud and his team cooking from his cookbook Daniel: My French Cuisine . I found myself watching as much to see talented chefs making beautiful food as to see if they display the temperament of the many chefs whose kitchens I spent time in many moons ago.

When I first heard they were putting a live camera in the kitchen at The James Beard House I was reminded of the year that one of the football leagues (not the NFL…USFL maybe?) put microphones in players’ helmets . Remember how well that worked out? Well hopefully this will be a more productive use of the technology and there will be less cursing ….or at least the cursing will be in French ! I’ve been in an awful lot of restaurant kitchens (often back end toward the kitchen as I was beating a hasty retreat after relaying a less than welcome customer request). Of course I was never in the kitchen of the Daniel Bouluds of the world. Now you and I and all the rest of them can spend some time in the James Beard Kitchen with the professionals .

So far things are looking very civilized . I admit it, I’m looking for a few fireworks . It’s a kitchen for goodness sake!
Leslie


By Daniel Boulud
Updated: 22:00 BST, 4 June 2010

Bittersweet treat for grown-ups.

Decadent: Chocolate mousse

  • 560ml (1pt) double cream
  • 225g (8oz) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 150g (5½oz) sugar, plus extra 115g (4oz)
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 3 large eggs
  • Chocolate shavings and whipped cream, to serve

Whisk the cream until it barely holds soft peaks. Put the chocolate into a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted and remove from the heat.

Combine 150g (5½oz) sugar and 60ml (2¼fl oz) water in a pan and bring to a boil without stirring. Cover and boil until the sugar has dissolved. Uncover and let the mixture boil until it reaches the soft ball stage - 115C on a thermometer. Beat together the egg yolks and the 3 whole eggs until thick and pale. When the syrup reaches 115C, pour in a fine stream into the eggs, beating at high speed until the mixture is cool, around 8-10 minutes. Transfer the egg mixture to another bowl.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites and add the remaining sugar. Place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water, and stir until the mixture is hot to the touch. Remove and then whip the mixture until the meringue holds tall, stiff peaks.

Fold one-third of the yolk mixture into the meringue. Very quickly fold the whipped cream into the hot melted chocolate. Fold in the rest of the yolk mixture and then the meringue until just blended. Spoon the mousse into a serving bowl and chill for about 2 hours. Serve with chocolate shavings and whipped cream.


Chefs and restaurant owners contemplate moving the industry forward amidst the current reality

Words by: Alia Akkam, Alissa Ponchione, + Will Speros

Seven chefs and restaurant owners reflect on how to create memorable experiences for patrons, while propelling the industry forward amidst today’s many challenges.

Daniel Boulud

For the last 22 years, chef Daniel Boulud has hosted Sunday Supper, a benefit dinner at his flagship New York restaurant Daniel, that raises money for Citymeals on Wheels. As co-president of the board of directors, Boulud was touched during the pandemic to see a flurry of laid-off workers volunteer with the organization that delivers meals to older homebound residents across New York’s five boroughs. “I’m so thankful to all of those who felt they had some spare time to give to the community,” he says.

Raised on a farm outside Lyon, France, cooking was an escape for Boulud. “Dirty fingers, dirty shoes all the time. That was not my thing,” he recalls. “Food was the subject of life,” noting his career kicked off at age 14 when a contessa in his village secured him an apprenticeship at Nandron in Lyon. Throughout the 1970s, he worked in the kitchens of French chefs Georges Blanc, Roger Vergé, and Michel Guérard, before moving to Copenhagen, Washington, DC, and finally, in 1982, New York to helm the kitchen at the Polo Lounge in the Westbury Hotel. An executive chef position at Le Cirque followed, where in between 16-hour shifts, he dreamed of opening his own restaurant. “It took me six years because when you don’t have the money, you have to make [a name for] yourself to have people trust you to give you money,” he says.

His namesake fine dining restaurant Daniel debuted in 1993 and was the first step in establishing his food empire, which now includes Café Boulud, Bar Boulud, Boulud Sud, db Bistro Moderne, and Épicerie Boulud, some of which have also expanded to Miami, London, and Singapore. A yet-to-be-revealed restaurant inside the sustainable New York skyscraper One Vanderbilt is on the boards, as is Brasserie Boulud at the Sofitel Dubai Wafi. His success stems from his attention to detail, on everything from design to operations. “My staff can testify to it: I’m hard to please,” he says. “But as long as I’m hard to please, we make the effort to make the customer happy.”


Daniel in New York by Tihany Design evokes an Old World European charm

Today, Boulud is one of the most beloved restaurateurs in the industry, as much for his contributions and his mentorship as his cooking. At the height of New York’s COVID-19 crisis, for example, Boulud and his staff prepared meals for both local hospitals and World Central Kitchen. With his restaurants forced to shutter, he also launched Daniel Boulud Kitchen, with meals available for curbside pickup. “I don’t take anything for granted,” he says. “In the low, we have to push high, and in the high, we have to make sure we don’t take advantage of [our ambitions].”

With a new outdoor terrace at Daniel, Boulud is eager to reunite with the team “and feel that sense of power together,” he says. The future of restaurants might need to be reimagined, but what “we’re not going to lose in this,” Boulud assures, “is our talent, our passion, and our commitment.”

Marcus Samuelsson

In his forthcoming book The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food, New York-based chef, author, and TV personality Marcus Samuelsson puts the spotlight on the recipes and achievements of the myriad talents shaping contemporary Black cuisine.

Considering the current cultural landscape, the debut of The Rise, co-authored by Osayi Endolyn, underscores that a Black chef’s journey is nuanced rather than monolithic. “We know African Americans have contributed enormously to the hospitality industry, from farm to dining,” he says. “It’s something I’ve been focusing on for a long time.”

Born in Ethiopia, Samuelsson’s own career was forged at the age of 19 when he began working at the finest restaurant in Gothenburg, Sweden, where he was raised. He went on to become a partner at Aquavit in New York, win multiple James Beard Foundation Awards, and cook for the Obamas.

Those accomplishments, he explains, would not have come to fruition without the early support of his parents and mentors. That’s why today he is co-chair of Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), a nonprofit that provides guidance to underserved high school students through education and training.


Red Rooster in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood

It is another example of Samuelsson’s efforts to democratize the culinary world, as he did with Red Rooster, the comfort food restaurant he opened in Harlem in 2010. “I felt there was another conversation to be had,” he says. “Being a Black man, being an immigrant, I wanted to tell the story of those two experiences colliding in America.”

For the last decade, Samuelsson’s shared that narrative, sprouting Red Rooster locations in London and Overtown, Miami’s historic Black neighborhood—he also has eponymous restaurants in Montreal, Bermuda, and Newark, New Jersey plus concepts in Sweden, Chicago, and California—and leaving an imprint on communities in need along the way. During the pandemic, for instance, Samuelsson and his team have prepared and served more than 120,000 meals as part of World Central Kitchen’s Restaurants for the People program.

As for the current racial reckoning happening in tandem with the public health crisis, Samuelsson is encouraging restaurateurs to determine “how you can create a more equal structure in your restaurant.” He recently participated in an Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) panel with fellow Black chefs Mashama Bailey and Kwame Onwuachi, and launched This Moment, his podcast hosted with Swedish hip-hop artist Jason ‘Timbuktu’ Diakité, which discusses systemic injustice. “It’s not a Black issue, it’s an American issue that we have to solve together,” he adds.

Nyesha Arrington

Nyesha Arrington remembers making bulgogi and kimchi with her Korean grandmother when she was only 5 years old. Those nightly cooking sessions and family dinners were an important foundation for the Los Angeles native as she pursued her passion of cooking. “I’m on my destined life journey,” she says. “Nothing else fulfills my soul more than being a chef.”

After graduating from the Culinary School at the Art Institute of California in 2001, she had a wide range of jobs: she was Stevie Wonder’s private chef, worked at the Michelin-starred Melisse in Santa Monica, California, and was executive chef at Spice Mill in the Virgin Islands for two years. It proved to be a formative experience for Arrington, as she conceived dishes from fresh-out-of-the bay sea urchins and spiny lobsters.

But, like many chefs, Arrington had aspirations of opening her own restaurant. After a stint on Top Chef in 2012, the fan-favorite launched the now-shuttered Leona in Venice, California in 2014 and Santa Monica bistro Native in 2017, where she served progressive California cuisine—what she defines as globally inspired and locally sourced. Her time on the cooking competition show combined with the rigors of opening her own venues helped position Arrington for the multifaceted culinary world. “For me, food is a celebration of people and the stories of our ancestors,” she says. “It’s all one huge dialogue that is connected. I don’t only celebrate my culture, I celebrate humanity.”

She closed Native in March and has since honed her skills as a storyteller by hosting Eater’s “Improv Kitchen” series. Making falafel using cauliflower or carbonara from soba noodles showcases Arrington at her best: creative, competitive, and fearless. It has also led her to rethink her role in the often uncompromising restaurant industry. “I feel a huge duty to do more,” she says. “It’s not just about cooking anymore.”

Oliver Mansaray and Daniel Scheppan

Lifelong friends Oliver Mansaray and Daniel Scheppan met in kindergarten 37 years ago. Their first fight, over toys, was placated by a shared love of soccer. They’ve remained inseparable, traveling the world, living together, and in December, opening Kink in Berlin.

Also sharing a passion for the food industry, Mansaray and Scheppan always knew they wanted to open a restaurant together. The idea percolated for decades as they revised business plans and hosted pop-up dinners with Scheppan cooking and Mansaray mixing drinks. When they came across a 19th-century brewery in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg area, everything fell into place. “It was the perfect fit, the perfect location,” Scheppan points out. “It was like a dream come true.”

Kink nods to their mission to personalize and elevate gastronomy in Berlin. With Italian chef Ivano Pirolo helming the kitchen and mixologist Arun Puvanendran as bar manager, “we created a space that is impressive but not pretentious,” says Scheppan. Reflecting their experimental approach, the bar is also home to a laboratory of sorts with the team hosting monthly workshops for those looking to hone their skills and learn new techniques. “We want to be a creative hub for Berlin,” Mansaray says, “and the world.”

When it came to opening Kink, the first-time restaurateurs weren’t deterred by the chaos and stress that often fractures relationships. For almost four decades, they have cultivated a fluid, open approach to their friendship that translated into smooth day-to-day operations. “We risked everything, but there was never the feeling of regret or doubt,” says Scheppan. “It’s not a two-man show. It’s a whole team. They put everything out there—all their love and energy—and we try to channel that vision to contribute to Berlin’s [F&B] scene.”

On opening night, the two-story space was buzzing with people, the garden was full, and the DJ was playing music. “We were sitting there, like, ‘Damn, we have a restaurant. Look what we did in almost no time at all,’” says Mansaray.

Lindsay Tusk

Before Quince moved to its current home in San Francisco’s Jackson Square, the Michelin-starred restaurant was located in a lower Pacific Heights Victorian townhouse. “The dining room was modest, but there was a sweetness to it,” says Lindsay Tusk, who opened the restaurant with her husband, chef Michael Tusk, in 2003.

Years later, the Tusks continue to mold the city’s dining scene. Quince, now situated in a brick-and-timber building dating from 1907, shares walls with their more casual and animated Cotogna. And just a few blocks away is their newest arrival, Verjus, an ode to Spain and France’s quirky natural wine bars.

Uniting all three restaurants is Michael’s devotion to cooking with fresh produce. The majority is sourced an hour north, from the coastal Fresh Run Farm in Bolinas, run by third-generation farmer Peter Martinelli who grows heirloom vegetables, fruits, and flowers exclusively for the Tusks.

During the pandemic, Quince has deftly transitioned into an experiential outdoor experience. Dubbed Quince at the Farm, the duo is offering a series of weekend lunches slated to run through October that alternates between two enchanting backdrops: Fresh Run and the olive oil-producing McEvoy Ranch in Petaluma, where Martinelli also tends a few acres.

Multi-course meals served in open-air greenhouses or a Chinese pagoda star vegetables “pulled from the earth that morning,” Lindsay says. The leisurely afternoons are bolstered by games of horseshoes and hands-on harvesting sessions. “You see people sink into the experience,” she says. “The farm had come to Quince for so many years, and now it is Quince’s turn to come to the farm.”

JJ Johnson

This past Juneteenth was the busiest day in the history of FieldTrip, a rice bowl-centric concept launched last year by chef JJ Johnson in Harlem. Here, patrons are greeted by the fast-casual spot’s motto: “Rice is Culture,” a nod, Johnson says, to the ubiquity of rice at dinner tables, but presented in an elevated way. “Rice is like a childhood memory,” he says. “You grew up on rice, the first thing you probably ate was rice. It’s the ingredient that connects us all.”

Johnson made a name for himself after winning Bravo competition show The Dinner Party in 2011, where he caught the attention of Harlem restaurateur Alexander Smalls. The two hit it off, traveled to Ghana together to study West African cuisine, and returned to open the Cecil Steakhouse in Harlem. They also co-authored the Afro-Asian-inspired cookbook Between Harlem and Heaven, which earned them a James Beard Award for Best American Cookbook.

FieldTrip is another evolution for Johnson and reflects his mission to entice the everyday working-class person to choose his neighborhood restaurant over chain alternatives. “That was my fight before [the coronavirus],” he says. “When the pandemic came, the spots they would normally go to closed and they thought, ‘All right, I’m going to come in here.’”

While plans to grow FieldTrip have been put on hold due to COVID-19, Johnson is hopeful he will further his mark on the New York culinary scene. “For a Black business owner, there’s not many times in our career we get a moment to talk about expansion,” he says. “If I expand, then potentially. I can employ more people who look like me.”

This sense of community is a defining characteristic not only of FieldTrip, but also Harlem, which Johnson hopes visitors will embrace and be inspired to return to. “Take 15 percent of what you make and try a Black business,” he advises. “Walk the community. Say hello to people.”

Photography by Helge Kirchberger, Eric Laignel, Jake Ahles, Robert Rieger, Kyle Johnson, Joe Weaver

This article originally appeared in HD’sSeptember 2020 issue.


News You Can Eat

Abe's Market - An All-Natural Market Available On Line
The growing population of consumers who care about what's in their products and how they are made, now has an online destination to find fantastic natural products and meet the people who create them, Abe's Market (www.abesmarket.com). The site enables customers to learn about the ingredients, the processes and the stories behind the products that are on the cusp of being household names, much like the traditional farmers market, but with all the modern conveniences of a 24 hour, easy-to-use website. "Consumers are looking to understand what's in their goods and to know who makes them, and want to know the story behind the product" says Richard Demb, co-founder of Abe's Market. Other features of the site include checkout from all sellers streamlined into one single checkout process, trackable shipping via UPS, product recommendations, and web seminars given by leaders in the natural products industries. "We see tremendous consumer demand online for natural products but no compelling online marketplace to satisfy this demand across multiple product categories," says Co-Founder Jon Polin. "With the launch of Abe's Market, we hope to satisfy that demand." Abe's Market is launching with four initial product categories - personal care, kids and baby, home, and food and beverage - and will expand into new categories shortly after launch.

The Four Seasons Restaurant will host Copland Gala.

Fresno will host Channing Daughters wine dinner.

Blue Sky to serve Mediterranean cuisine.

Five Course Prix Fixe Every Saturday At Almond
Almond (1970 Montauk Highway, Bridgehampton, 631-537-8885) has announced a new five course prix fixe every Saturday night from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. for $35. The menu changes weekly. Almond is now open Thursday through Tuesday, closed on Wednesday. For more information call Almond at 631-537-8885.

Rowdy Hall to celebrate Halloween.

Muse Restaurant
Muse Restaurant (760 Montauk Highway, in the Citarella Shopping Commons, Water Mill, 631-726-2606) has a happening Fall in progress with a new fall menu and great values. Muse is offering a $24.95 three course pri fixe every night, all night, including Fridays and Saturdays - with no time restraints and no catch. The prix fixe items can be taken right off the Ala Carte Menu, plus the $25 Wine list. Additionally, for all of you who loved the Cooking Class Program, they will resume in October/November.


Scott Conant Bio

Scott Conant brings a deft touch and unwavering passion to creating soulful food in a convivial atmosphere. With a career spanning more than 34 years and an ever-expanding brand, Conant has established himself as one of the world's leading chefs.

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Conant built a reputation for outstanding leadership and culinary creativity early in his career, running the kitchens of famed Italian spots such as il Toscanaccio, Chianti and City Eatery, all of which earned glowing reviews throughout his tenure.

Conant officially put his name on the map when he opened the beloved L'Impero in 2002, which garnered a three-star review from The New York Times, the title of “Best New Restaurant” from the James Beard Foundation and praise from top publications such as Gourmet and Food & Wine the latter naming him "Best New Chef" in 2004.

Following the success of L'Impero, Conant opened Alto, an elegant Italian restaurant in midtown Manhattan. Always looking to raise the bar, Conant eventually moved on to bring his own vision of sophisticated, savory Italian cooking to life. In February 2017, he opened Mora Italian, a modern osteria in Phoenix, Arizona, and in April 2018, he debuted Italian steakhouse Cellaio at Resorts World Catskills in Monticello, New York.

In 2018, Conant launched his Sprezza line of cooking and pantry essentials, bringing his passion for food culture into homes and giving fans an opportunity to cook with authentic Italian flavor in their own kitchens. The Sprezza collection of nine sauces, spreads, olives and more embody the three tenets of Conant’s brand — honesty, integrity and soul.

Conant is well known for his Food Network appearances, including his long-running role as a judge on Chopped for over a decade. In 2020, he began hosting the dessert-themed spinoff Chopped Sweets and has also served as host of Best Baker in America seasons 2 and 3, Topgolf’s Chef Showdown, and as a recurring co-host on Beat Bobby Flay. In addition, Conant has made frequent guest appearances on The Today Show, Rachael Ray Show and Good Morning America, among others. He has published three cookbooks: New Italian Cooking, Bold Italian and The Scarpetta Cookbook.

As chef Conant continues to embark on new opportunities, he looks forward to sharing his enduring philosophy: savor the pure pleasure of food, down to its last taste.


The Irrational Optimist

In 2006, Susan Ungaro, the former editor in chief of Family Circle Magazine, became president of the James Beard Foundation (JBF), a nationally renowned nonprofit foundation and culinary arts organization dedicated to celebrating, nurturing, and honoring chefs and luminaries in the culinary industry.

Since beginning her tenure, Ms. Ungaro has been instrumental in helping the foundation thrive, tripling its annual revenue from $4 million to $12 million and erasing a previous deficit of over $1 million.

Five years ago, she launched the Taste America cross-country tour. Other forward-looking initiatives she’s established include the annual JBF Food Summit, the Leadership Awards, and the JBF Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change, as well as structures to recognize women in the field, such as JBF’s Women in Culinary Leadership program and the Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership program.

Among other honors, Ms. Ungaro was named one of Adweek’s 30 Most Influential People in Food and one of Irish America’s Top 50 Power Women she also received the Hope Award from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

She has appeared on Food Network's Beat Bobby Flay, Iron Chef America, Top Chef, the Today Show, Good Morning America, and many more. Recently, we caught up with Ms. Ungaro at the James Beard Foundation’s West Village headquarters to discuss her career and her work with the nation’s most celebrated food organization.

Tell us about your start and how you came to food and hospitality.

If you look around the room, I have little elements of my past life. For example, I have a bobblehead Ronald McDonald. That's where I got my start in the food industry—working my way through college at McDonald's. I was a communications major—radio, TV, and print journalism—and when I graduated, I got my master's from William Patterson, which was then a state college, in New Jersey.

I actually started an employee newsletter for the McDonald's franchise I worked for. I was slinging hamburgers, making shakes, frying fries, managing. By the time I left, I was a shift supervisor. I knew I didn't want to stay at McDonald's, so I sent out my resume and ended up getting a job as an editorial assistant at Family Circle magazine, a big women's magazine in New York City.

I was an editorial assistant, and eventually became a senior editor—I worked my way up. I was at Family Circle for 27 years. When I was seven months pregnant with my third child, my daughter, I became editor in chief. At the same time, I got married and bought my first house, learned how to decorate. I even learned how to cook from all of the magazine's recipes and the test kitchens. But I was in charge of the reportage—the articles department—not the food or home or beauty departments.

Still, 25 percent of our editorial was food-focused. You name a chef on television or a major cookbook writer—from Bobby Flay to Emeril Lagasse to Ina Garten to Rachael Ray—and they wanted to get their recipes featured in Family Circle, because we had over 20 million readers. When I left Family Circle, I knew I didn't want to be in publishing again—I had done that for 27 years.

I loved what I did, but during that time I'd also been on the board of trustees of a few foundations. So I knew I wanted to run a foundation, but the James Beard Foundation was not on my radar at all. I was much more involved in child health, homeless families, feeding the hungry, things like that.

But in life, and in cooking, timing is everything, as they say. So when I left, one of the Family Circle’s board of trustees, Barbara Fairchild, then the editor in chief of Bon Appétit, put me in touch with JBF’s board, and I ended up coming here in April 2006.

You've led the James Beard Foundation for 11 years. Has it been what you expected when you first arrived?

No. I don't think you really understand the job until you are in it. I came knowing JBF needed a turnaround. It was financially in a difficult position, losing money. And I didn't just want to come to the James Beard Foundation because it was known for the James Beard Awards and scholarships.

What I also loved was that James Beard was truly an everyman. He liked fried chicken and down-home cuisine just as much as he loved foie gras and haute cuisine. As an editor, you know how to create stories. We needed good PR, and that was part of the mission. I had an expression: "We're going to take it mass with class."

For example, Vogue is obviously the height of fashion, but its readership is mass. And I felt that the James Beard Foundation was the height of great food, but it needed to be more mass. More people needed to know how important a James Beard Award was, and what it meant for chefs to be artists.

Food Network had been on the air for just over a decade. Chefs were becoming the new popular celebrities, and I knew how to make sure they became even more popular and part of the culture, not just fine dining. Chefs are the great spokespeople today for food policy, and advocates for better nutrition and better school lunches—it has only grown. So we rode that wave too.

In a sense, you might say you're the manager of both a foundation and a restaurant.

That first week, somebody was coming to visit me here at the Beard House. The front reception area can get kind of messy until right before dinnertime, with boxes and things being delivered, so I wanted to make it look a little nicer. Albert, our night kitchen manager, was sitting and reading the Post.

So I went downstairs and said, "You know, Albert, I’m expecting some company. Can you clean up this room?" He looked at me and said, "I haven't clocked in yet." I had this aha moment—I was back in McDonald's, where people had to clock in. That was really the moment when I realized I was running what would now be called America's first pop-up restaurant. The Beard House is a place where the restaurant, the menu, and the chef change every day.

What does bringing the James Beard Foundation experience on the road via the Taste America tour entail?

We're celebrating chefs in the cities that we're visiting. In Boston last weekend, we were celebrating Karen Akunowicz [2015 and 2016 James Beard Award Nominee for Best Chef Northeast] and several other local chefs. Then we bring a chef from outside the city, so we have local stars, and what we call our All-Star, a national star.

So in Boston, we had Daniel Boulud. He came and they created a beautiful dinner together. It's always a big fundraising dinner with auctions, a cocktail hour, and a five-course menu. Then the next day, we went to Sur La Table stores, where we had two free cooking demos and book signings with the two chefs who participated the night before.

So Daniel Boulud showed people how to make this incredible lobster in a chilled broth called homard en gelée, and Karen Akunowicz's demo was scallops with a Thai salad—really interesting. In Chicago the week before, we had Michael Voltaggio, who has a restaurant in San Francisco, and won Top Chef. He was our visiting star. Our Local Star was Stephanie Izard, of Girl & the Goat, the first woman to win Top Chef.

How do all these activities carry out the mission of the James Beard Foundation?

We spread culinary knowledge. For example, we grant scholarships to students all across the country. Since 1991, we have awarded over $7 million in scholarships. When I came, the average annual amount of scholarships awarded was $150,000 to $200,000. Now it's more in the $700,000 range. Plus we're taking the Foundation's name on the road, featuring rising chefs, so people know that these chefs have something to do with a man who was considered the godfather of American gastronomy.

James Beard wrote over 24 cookbooks. One of the things I am proudest of is that more and more people know who he was and what he stood for, because we've made the Foundation's footprint national. Bringing the Beard House experience on the road makes us more “mass with class.” This spring, the PBS series American Masters did a Chefs Flight series—four chefs, four one-hour documentaries on PBS: Jacques Pépin, Alice Waters, Julia Child, and James Beard.

The documentary on James Beard was called America’s First Foodie. I'm really proud of that, because it means we're getting his name out. People know who he is. When they walk into a restaurant and they see a James Beard Award medal or certificate on the wall, they know, that means something.

Tell me about what the James Beard Awards mean and why they matter.

The James Beard Awards are the most coveted awards a chef can get in this country. Obviously, Zagat and the Forbes Travel Guide are different honorifics, but Michelin is only in four cities. It's only in New York, Chicago, D.C., and San Francisco. But the James Beard Awards are national.

Many chefs will say publicly that a James Beard Award changed their life because all of a sudden, reservations were up in their restaurants someone wanted them on TV doing cooking demos, just like James Beard used to do on the old Today show in New York City and they might even get a book contract. It's an affirmation by their colleagues.

Yes, there's an open call for entries, but ultimately you are voted on by a jury of your peers and journalists. My first awards in 2006 were at the Marriott. It was a great celebration, but publications like the New York Times had referred to it as the Oscars of the food industry, and it didn't feel like it.

So the next year, we moved it to Lincoln Center. It became a red-carpet event, a reason to dress up. It elevated the awards, the chefs, the restaurateurs, and the media. And a few years ago, we moved the awards to the Chicago Lyric Opera House. It is still the most glamorous night for the food industry in America.

Can you talk about moving the awards to Chicago?

There are 10 Regional Best Chef Awards, for 10 regions of the country. They're national awards. Even though the Beard House is in New York City and the awards had always been in New York City, it was good to move out. We also moved the nomination announcements to different cities. The day the nominees are announced is a big day around the country. That’s why we visit other cities to do the announcements. [Ed. Note: In 2017, ICE hosted the James Beard Foundation’s annual Chefs’ Night Out celebration, to give chefs, nominees, presenters, and their supporters a chance to mingle before the big awards ceremony.)

Is there a consistent trait you see in the chefs who win a James Beard Award? What makes them outstanding?

Number one, obviously, is that they're getting great reviews in whatever city they hail from. Their peers are looking to them as leaders in whatever they're doing culinarily, in their restaurant, in how they're presenting their food. There may be some trends that they are expanding on, or maybe they're just doing something that is so beautiful and different that they're being held up by their colleagues and voted on.

Which chefs stick out in your memory?

To me, every chef who comes and cooks at the Beard House. For many of them, it's their New York debut. Julia Child said this, not me: Bringing a chef to cook at the Beard House is like inviting a singer to come and perform at Carnegie Hall. It has been such a treat to meet some of our country’s iconic chefs. Jacques Pépin—it's just so special to be with him. Charlie Trotter, who sadly passed away—we had some memorable times honoring him at the James Beard Awards.

For our 30th anniversary, Marcus Samuelsson was basically the keynote, because he came and cooked at our 30th anniversary dinner at the Beard House, and it happened to be his 25th time cooking here. [The dinner will be featured in 30 Years: A Celebration of the James Beard Foundation, on ABC.] All of these chefs are special in their own ways. How do you choose your favorite children? You can't.

What might surprise people about what the Foundation does?

We are a place where anyone can come to dinner. We even have a student membership, for $25. Anyone can go online and see who is cooking at the Beard House. In general, a dinner costs $175. That includes everything: tip, wine pairings, champagne, and cocktails. And if you're a member, you're paying less—generally $135. To have an incredible dining experience—to go out to dinner in New York with five courses with wine pairings—is going to cost a whole lot more than that. And we have our “Foodies Under 40” program, called “JBF Greens,” in New York and Chicago. Membership is $75, and those events are also fantastic.

What’s something that young or aspiring chefs might not realize about this industry?

Chefs are actually kind, nurturing people, despite what the public image might try to make of them. Sure, it takes all kinds to make this world, but in general, I've always felt that chefs, whether they're men or women, are like mothers. What do they want? They want to feed us and nurture us.

The majority of chefs that I've met—even the ones with big, bawdy reputations—want to create the next, best generation of chefs. So you should be looking for role models who fit your ideals. When you go work in a place, if it doesn't feel right, leave and go somewhere else. In these times, that's even more important.

Tell me about how you overcame some of the major challenges you've faced as head of this foundation.

I didn't look back. I looked forward. When I took this position, my oldest son was in medical school. It was the white-jacket moving-up ceremony at Mount Sinai, and they had a pediatric cardiologist from Texas giving the keynote to these wide-eyed, ambitious, and idealistic young people who want to be doctors. This doctor's job was to do heart surgery on babies, on children. And he said the children who did the best were the ones that had parents who were irrational optimists. I'd never heard those two words put together before—irrational and optimist.

I realized that's what I'd done, because I had been at the Foundation for just a year and a half, and things were already turning around. If you are an optimist, try to keep those other voices—“It can't be done, it's never been done”—out of your head. Think that you can do anything—that really does help you succeed. It's easy to be an optimist when it's a sure thing. It's not easy to be an optimist if it's not that rational at the time.

You’re stepping down as president at the end of 2017, at the conclusion of the Foundation's 30th anniversary year. What's next for the Foundation, and for you?

Well, I'm not calling it retirement, but a “rewiring”—because honestly, I don't know. It's nice to be able to say, “I'm going to see what comes to me.” I had some time off between Family Circle and the James Beard Foundation, and at the time, all I knew was that I wanted to do something to give back. That’s what I know now as well. I can imagine myself helping other foundations that need my help, but I'm also looking forward to not working “36/7.”

And for the Foundation, we're poised for even greater things to come. We'll be giving out more scholarships. We'll be doing more in the areas of food policy and advocacy, in which we've taken a big leap. We've been working very hard to create a more diverse restaurant and food world. And our Women's Leadership Program is growing and having an impact we want it to be even better than it is right now.

Do you have some final words of wisdom for people entering this career?

I'll use something that I used even before I came to the James Beard Foundation: The ten most important two-letter words are: ‘If it is to be, it is up to me.’ Ultimately, in every aspect of our lives, we're in charge of ourselves—no matter what’s happening around us. That's a really important life lesson to take, no matter where you go. And I'll give you one other bit that my father used to say: Be like a tea bag. You get stronger the longer you're in hot water.

Ready to launch your career in the culinary arts? Learn more about ICE's career training programs.


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