Celebrity Chef Tour Dinner Series with Host Chef Craig Deihl at Cypress in Charleston, South Carolina – February 6, 2013


James Beard’s desire to bring great food to America’s kitchens is one reason that many of us have a strong passion for cooking and culinary writing today.  Beard shared his love affair of fine food with everyone who would listen.  He never met a stranger and his hospitality was known by all who came in contact with him.

Following his death in 1985, a fund raising organization came together to purchase and preserve Beard’s Greenwich Village townhouse from his estate.  The intent was to create an environment for future generations of industry professionals to learn about the new American food scene and sustain Beard’s hospitality to everyone who sought good times through good food.

The James Beard Foundation officially opened Beard’s home in November 1986 with the mission “to provide a center for the culinary arts and to continue to foster the interest James Beard inspired in all aspects of food, its preparation, presentation, and of course, enjoyment.”  Twenty-seven years later, the James Beard House continues to host chefs, food professionals, writers, and those who appreciate all things culinary with dinners and special events.

The James Beard House - NYC (photo from the internet)

The James Beard House – NYC (photo from the internet)

Over the years, some of the finest chefs have been invited to the James Beard House to share their culinary skills with people who appreciate the art and technique that these chefs have mastered in their pursuit of excellence.

While very few of us have the privilege of being able to make the trip to New York and attend an event at the James Beard House, The Celebrity Chef Tour Dinner Series was created in 2004 as a way to bring the experience of dining at the James Beard House to other cities.  These dinners bring together some of the country’s best chefs in the finest restaurants throughout the United States.

Cypress - Charleston, SC

Cypress – Charleston, South Carolina

We were able to attend The Celebrity Chef Tour Dinner at Cypress Restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina during our recent extended visit to the city.  Known as one of the premier culinary events in the country, Chef Craig Deihl and his five guest chefs put on quite the event from the unique cocktails and beautiful passed hor d’oeuvres and charcuterie to an impressive six-course meal with wine pairings chosen by Cypress’ wine director, Bill Netherland.  This was the first Celebrity Chef Tour Dinner in Charleston.

Prepping in the kitchen and dining room

Prepping in the kitchen and dining room

Prep work

The prep work lasted all day at Cypress

Last minute preparations before the guests arrive

Last minute preparations before the guests arrive

Chef Tory McPhail, of Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, brought the the flavors of the Gulf Coast to Charleston with his traditional New Orleans-style dish: Creole Crawfish Boil with Louisiana Crawfish, wild Royal Red shrimp, and jumbo lump blue crab.  The festive plating included a nod to another Louisiana tradition, Mardi Gras.

Cheg Tory McPhail tastes his Crawfish

Chef Tory McPhail working on his Creole Crawfish Boil

Chef McPhail explained the preparation of his dish to the waitstaff prior to service

Chef McPhail explained the preparation of his dish to the waitstaff prior to service

Each chef describes their dishes prior to dinner service

Each chef took their turn describing their method of preparation and thought process of their dishes

Chef David Varley, Mina’s corporate executive chef, took us through the second course with a decadent and rich Chestnut and Foie Gras Soup, served with a smear of toasted sorghum marshmallow, black truffles, and a chestnut aigre-doux.  Chef Varley wanted to create a soup that had layers of flavor rather than one consistent flavor.  The contrast of the sweet marshmallow was offset by the tart chestnut while the rich texture of the foie gras added a smooth consistency combined with the earthiness of the black truffle.  Mission accomplished.

Chef David Varley

Chef David Varley preparing his appetizer course, Border Springs Farm Lamb Heart Tartare, Fermented Garlic, Anson Mills Green Farro

Appetizer courses and Crawisf Boil

Appetizer courses and the first course – Creole Crawfish Boil

The third course was prepared by Chef Trevor Kunk of Blue Hill in New York.  Blue Hill was just nominated as Best Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation. Chef Kunk chose to incorporate some of their own farm raised pig and combined an immature egg (also from their farm), crushed potatoes, and pickled onions, in what resembled a rustic potato hash.  The video below shows Chef Kunk explaining his dish and the ingredients to the servers prior to service.

Chefs Trevor Kunk and Craig Deihl

Chefs Trevor Kunk and Craig Deihl

James Beard Award-Winning Chef, Andrea Reusing of Lantern in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, prepared the fourth course blending the sweet and sour notes of Asian flavors as she created a Roasted Hudson Valley Moulard Duck with sake kasu, white sweet potato, and pickled apples that were reminiscent of Jolly Rancher apple candy.

Chef Andrea Reusing

Chef Andrea Reusing

Looking down at the kitchen from the lounge area above

Looking down at the kitchen from the lounge area above

Chef Craig Deihl, who has just received his third James Beard nomination, completed the menu with the final entree and dessert.  Chef Deihl prepared Dry Aged Ribeye with Carolina shrimp pierogi, fermented fennel, and a red wine-beet reduction.  The refreshing finale of Meyer Lemon Pudding Cake with Florida citrus, Anise Hyssop, and lemon balm was the perfect ending to a very special and memorable evening.

Chef Craig Deihl with his Meyer Lemon Pudding

Chef Craig Deihl with his Meyer Lemon Pudding Cake

It is not often that this many talented chefs are under one roof to showcase their creativity and create a beautifully prepared multi-course dinner with wine pairings.  While it may not be the same as sitting in James Beard’s dining room at the James Beard House in New York, these dinners offer an extraordinary opportunity to dine on some of the best food in the country close to home.  You can check the Celebrity Chefs Tour Dinner Series calendar for events near you.

Chef Craig Deihl's photos from Instagram

Chef Craig Deihl’s photos from Instagram

You can follow Chef Deihl on Instagram.  His photos are impressive and have been named one of the top chefs to follow on Instagram.

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