Simple Art of Cooking: Delicious Memories of Chefs & Champagne

Chef Bobby Flay with Miss Universe Gabriela Isler and Miss USA Nia Sanchez.
Chef Bobby Flay with Miss Universe Gabriela Isler and Miss USA Nia Sanchez. Photo credit: Barbara Lassen

Food Network star and cookbook author Bobby Flay was honored by the James Beard Foundation (JBF) at the annual Chefs & Champagne benefit at Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack last month. Vivacious Susan Ungaro, president of JBF, announced the occasion to celebrate Flay’s list of accomplishments and JBF’s efforts to educate a national audience on American regional fare. She spoke of the long tradition of educational programs supporting culinary tutelage on sustainability, public health and nutrition, and proudly announced the winners of the 2014 Christian Wölffer Scholarship—Samantha Whitlam, Alexis Sicklick and Jhonel Faelnar, all students of food and wine. (Read more about this on page 58.)

The annual tasting was created by more than 40 chefs from around the country, including the featured recipes below. A culinary bash indeed!

Do-ahead velvety rich corn soup from Jesse Schenker, Chef/Owner, The Gander, New York.

Serves 4 to 6

4 ears farm fresh local corn, shucked
8 ounces unsalted butter
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
kosher salt to taste
1 1/2 pints heavy cream

For the garnish
Large heirloom tomato, cut into small dice
3/4 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt to taste

1. Hold each ear of corn vertically over a clean kitchen towel, then cut kernels downward onto the center of towel. Lift edges of towel and drop kernels into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and sauté to 2 to 3 minutes and add the thyme and the corn. Sauté the mixture, tossing to coat, for 18 to 20 minutes, Stirring occasionally to prevent the corn from sticking to the pan. Add salt to taste. Reduce heat to low, stir in the cream and cover the pan. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until mixture is creamy.

3. Remove pan from heat and let cool, uncovered. Transfer mixture to a blender, and purée in batches until smooth and creamy. Taste for seasoning. Pour into a suitable container, and refrigerate overnight.

4. When ready to serve, combine tomato mixture and serve a dollop over each bowl of soup. Soup may be served warm or chilled.


Miro Uskokovic, pastry chef of Gramercy Tavern in New York, offered this delectable melt-in-your-mouth, sandwich cookie.

Yield: approximately 3 dozen
4 cups all-purpose flour, preferably King Arthur
2/3 cup potato starch
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature (chef uses Cabot)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or seeds from
1 vanilla pod
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted apricot jam

1.Sift the flour, potato starch and salt; re-measure and set aside.

2. In bowl of standing electric mixer combine butter, sifted powdered sugar and vanilla. With paddle attachment, lightly cream the mixture, just enough for the sugar to dissolve. Add flour mixture all at once and mix just enough to combine.

3. Transfer mixture to a lightly floured surface, gather dough into a mass, divide dough and transfer to squares of plastic wrap large enough to wrap dough and refrigerate, preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 325°F.

4. Place each chilled dough on a square of lightly floured wax paper. Cover with wax paper and roll out dough to about 1/8” thickness. Using a 2” round cookie cutter, cut dough and place rounds on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. (If possible use two baking sheets to bake in batches.) Bake in preheated oven about 15 to 16 minutes, or until lightly browned at the edges.

5. Allow the cookies to cool down on a rack, then sandwich with apricot jam.

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