This past Friday, the incredible James Beard Foundation held its annual fall gala and fundraiser at the historical Rainbow Room. The best in the industry and admirers of the beloved organization gathered for a wonderful night of fun and delicious food.
This year’s theme, Singapore’s Culinary Crossroads, presented by Singapore Tourism Board featured a unique, globe-spanning, gastronomic gathering with Alfred Portale, Cat Cora, LG Han, Yew Eng Tong, and Cheryl Koh, along with Rainbow Room host chef Robert Aikens, and host pastry chef Kyung Kim.
During the VIP opening reception guests gathered to admire the stunning view of the Empire State Building and the cities captivating skyline.
“The Singapore Tourism Board is honored to join the James Beard Foundation as the first-ever presenting partner of the JBF Gala. Our top local chefs are in New York representing Singapore and collaborating with top U.S. chefs on the night’s East meets West menu. This cuisine is evocative of the innovation, creativity and high standard of excellence found in Singapore’s vibrant and diverse dining landscape,” said Ranita Sundra. “We hope the guests were inspired by the delectable dishes with Singapore flavors, and we invite all New Yorkers to experience our nation’s distinct cuisine first-hand by visiting Singapore for a culinary adventure.”
The silent and live auction packages in the room raised almost $250,000 to support the James Beard Foundation’s mission and programs. Hosted by celebrity auctioneer Billy Harris, the once-in-a-lifetime live auction offerings included “The Food Lover’s Ultimate Trip to Singapore,” a six-night, round-trip Premium Economy Class multi-cultural package for two; “New Orleans at the James Beard House,” a New Orleans–themed reception and dinner for 40 prepared by JBF Award winners: Justin Devillier of La Petite Grocery, Tory McPhail of Commander’s Palace, Ryan Prewitt of Pêche Seafood Grill, Susan Spicer of Bayona, as well as dessert courtesy of Link Restaurant Group’s Maggie Scales; “A Taste of Madrid,” a six night insider tour for two of one of Europe’s most vibrant cities; and “Women in the Kitchen,” an unforgettable James Beard House dinner for 40 featuring JBF Award winners Michelle Bernstein, Joanne Chang, Suzanne Goin, Jennifer Jasinski, and JBF Award Semifinalist Missy Robbins. The Super Silent items included a lavish four-night trip for two to Iceland, featuring luxury accommodations at the exceptional Hotel Rangá; a reservation for 8 at the famed Rao’s NYC; The Ultimate Napa Valley experience for two at Auberge Calistoga Ranch, Calistoga, CA; and a one-of-a-kind Tasting Menu for 12 by acclaimed chef Michael White at the private La Salle Lacoste Dining Room of his newest restaurant, Vaucluse, NYC.
Reflecting the United States and Singapore’s legacy as vital global culinary destinations, more than 200 guests were in attendance to enjoy the festivities. The evening began with an elegant reception featuring cocktails by Employees Only, music by Joelle and the Pinehurst Trio, and a silent auction of over 100 exciting culinary and travel packages.
Menu items included:
Reception included Petite Lobster Rolls with Yuzu Mayonnaise; Grilled Singaporean Chicken Satays with Spicy Peanut Sauce; Curry and Coconut-Spiced Short Rib Sliders with Pickled Cabbage and Avocado (Robert Aikens, Rainbow Room, NYC)
First Course: Langoustine–Daikon Ravioli with Langoustine Emulsion, Grapefruit, Salsa Verde, and Mentaiko (Cat Cora, Ocean Restaurant by Cat Cora™, Singapore)
Second Course: Compressed Rougie Duck Foie Gras with Sauternes Jelly, Pistachio Purée, Sour Cherries, Chocolate Ganache, and Superfood Fried Bun (Yew Eng Tong, Ocean Restaurant by Cat Cora™, Singapore)
Third Course: Umami, Miso Blue Lobster with Burnt Chile Cream and Black Pepper Tuile (LG Han, Restaurant Labyrinth, Singapore)
Fourth Course: Singaporean Braised Beef Short Rib with Coconut Jasmine Rice, Shiitake Mushrooms, Chinese Broccoli, and Chile, Soy, and Ginger Glaze (Alfred Portale, Gotham Bar & Grill, NYC)
In attendance were His Excellency Burhan Gafoor, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Singapore to the United Nations; Kershing Goh, Regional Director, Americas, Singapore Tourism Board; Ranita Sundra, Director, Attractions, Dining and Retail, Singapore Tourism Board, as well as inaugural JBF National Scholars recipients Earlene Cruz, Matthew Johnson, and Sarah McKeen and JBF Board of Trustees members Kim Bernstein, Peter Cameron, Bernardo Hernandez, John Kessler, Emily Luchetti (Board Chair), Nancy Lukitsh, Wenda Harris Millard, Cindy McLoughlin, Richard Perlman, Walt Richter and Frederic Seegal.
The dinner concluded with a call for pledges in support of the new JBF National Scholars Program, which awards scholarship support of up to $20,000 to students in each of the ten regions as defined by the James Beard Awards. Steven Elkes and Josh Elkes of the Elkes Family Foundation generously contributed a matching gift of $25,000 resulting in more than $90,000 raised in support of the new scholarship initiative.
The evening also included a spectacular Dessert Lounge by pastry chef Cheryl Koh (Tarte and Les Amis, Singapore) and host pastry chef Kyung Kim (Rainbow Room, NYC), who each presented a breathtaking array of desserts and petit fours, which ranged from Koh’s Singapore Sling Chocolate Egg Shooters to Kim’s delectable Matcha Cakes with Yuzu Curd. Throughout the after-dinner reception, guests enjoyed their sweet treats between sips of Michter’s US*1 American Whiskey and Foro Amaro, as well as espresso graciously provided by Lavazza.
The JBF Gala: Singapore’s Culinary Crossroads was presented by Singapore Tourism Board; and event sponsors include Domaines Barons de Rothschild Wines and Champagnes, Michter’s Distillery, Crop Organic Vodka, Farmer’s Organic Gin, Gourmet Settings, Lavazza, and Saratoga Spring Water Co.
Photos Courtesy The James Beard Foundation