Andrew Zimmern, the guy “who isn’t afraid to eat (almost) anything” was the honored guest at Chefs and Champagne, the 2013 annual James Beard Foundation’s lavish tasting party on the beautiful grounds of Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack. Andrew Zimmern is a an award winning TV personality, chef, author and teacher. He urged his audience “to be a traveler, not a tourist, to try new things, meet new people and look beyond what’s right in front of you.” His winning smile and bright personality was infectious for the happy gathering under the big tent.
The host of chefs helped raise funds for the Beard Foundation’s mission to nurture and preserve America’s diverse culinary heritage and to educate our future chefs and winemakers through the Christian Wölffer scholarship awards. Since 1991, the Foundation has awarded over $4 million in financial aid, with scholarships awarded each year. The talented chefs, from New York City, New Jersey, Connecticut and the North and South Forks, created a sensation with their beguiling offerings for the cheering crowd.
Here is a brief outline of some of the delicious tastes of the evening. Crudo of fluke prevailed, with different garnishes, Swedish salmon tartar with salmon caviar and onion emulsion, grilled Montauk pearl oysters with summer vegetables and champagne vinegar, yellow tomato gazpacho with shrimp avocado garnish, Asian tuna trio, sweet corn with lobster and epazote, smoked duck with wild greens and blackberry vinaigrette, vanilla ice cream with bourbon butterscotch sauce, grilled skewered flat iron steak and haloumi cheese and peach, raspberry, lemon thyme melba. The former two recipes featured below are adapted to make them kitchen-friendly.
Wölffer Estate wines were poured, as was Champagne Charles de Cazanove, Brut NV.
James Beard, a cookbook author and teacher with an encyclopedic knowledge of food who died in 1985, was a champion of American cuisine. He helped educate, nurture and mentor generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts, and through the Beard Foundation his legacy continues.
FLAT IRON STEAK SKEWERS
WITH HALOUMI CHEESE
Executive Chef Shane McBride of Balthazar in New York City, kept a constant flow of crispy cubed grilled skewered steak and cheese, served with pickled vegetables and grilled pita, for delighted tasters at Chefs and Champagne.
Adapted to make 6 to 8 skewers
For the steak and cheese
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 to 5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 pound flat-iron steak cut into 1-inch cubes
2 8-ounce blocks of haloumi* cheese cut into 1-inch cubes
Bamboo skewers, soaked over night
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup each coarsely chopped cilantro and mint
Thinly sliced cucumber
Paper-thin slices red onion
Grilled pitas for serving
Divide the oil, garlic and herbs into two mixing bowls large enough to separately marinate the meat and cheese. Toss the marinade with each component to coat well. Cover the respective bowls and refrigerate for one and up to two days. Soak the skewers in preparation of cooking.
Meanwhile, place the vinegar, sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Adjust heat to a brisk simmer and cook liquid for about 5 minutes. Pour into a class bowl and cool completely. Add the cilantro and mint and stir to mix. Thinly sliced vegetables and add to the pickling liquid. Cover and refrigerate. Prepare the recipe at least one day ahead or longer.
3. When ready to serve prepare your grill to high heat. Oil the grates generously to prevent sticking. Meanwhile, alternately skewer the meat and cheese and grill about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes on each side. Serve with pickled vegetables and grilled pita
The above recipe is an adaptation of Chef Mcbride’s presentation. Haloumi, a cheese from Cypress that can stand up to the heat of the grill, is available at King Kullen in Bridgehampton.
Vanilla foam for Peach Melba Verrine
1 1/3 cups milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
Scraped seeds from 1 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons plus 3/4 teaspoon powdered gelatin
Method: In a medium saucepan, bring the milk, cream, sugar and vanilla bean seeds to a boil. Meanwhile place gelatin in 1/3 cup cold water to bloom. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the gelatin. Cover and allow to infuse for 30 minutes. Pass the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve and allow to completely cool. Pour vanilla infusion into an iSi whipped cream canister and fill with 2 chargers.