Five Park City chefs selected to serve at the James Beard House

For as long as he can remember, Seth Adams has set his sights on cooking one day at the James Beard House in New York City. On Sept. 20, that dream will become a reality.

Adams, executive chef and owner of Riverhorse on Main, and four other Park City chefs are set to showcase their food during a dinner at the James Beard House. It is the first time that multiple Park City chefs were invited to the former home of famous cook, food writer and teacher James Beard, which Adams said reflects the expanding culinary scene in Park City.

The other chefs are Jodie Rogers of Deer Valley Resort, Briar Handly of Handle, Zane Holmquist of The Stein Collection and Matthew Harris of Tupelo. Each will prepare one course of a five-course meal.

Photo gallery: Park City chefs in action

Ginger Ries, executive director of the Park City Area Restaurant Association, said the association spent 18 months planning and organizing the event. The board, including Adams, came up with the idea to send a collection of chefs together to the James Beard House to represent Park City.

My approach to the whole dinner is to give everybody a taste of Utah, not just a taste of the chefs,”Matthew Harris, Tupelo

The association wrote a grant proposal to the Summit County Restaurant Tax Grant Advisory Committee and received the funding to pay for the transportation of the chefs and their ingredients to New York City. Then, they opened applications for chefs, selecting five out of the 12 who applied. The association and the five chefs then compiled a proposal to the James Beard House with a sample menu and, two weeks later, they got the go ahead.

“It’s such an honor to be invited to cook there,” Ries said. “We’re so lucky to have so many amazing chefs that are so accomplished right here in our community.”

She was told by the James Beard House that its events do not typically sell out, but the Park City dinner sold out in one week.

The chefs’ first obstacle to overcome was deciding who would serve which course, which Adams said was a seamless process.

“We left it open for people to choose and it just worked out,” he said.

He opted to serve one of the main courses, which will be a beef short rib with huckleberries, oxtail toast, locally grown mushrooms and focaccia croutons. Tupelo’s Harris chose to do a dessert, which he said has been a fun challenge.

“I’m typically a savory cook, but we can all step out of the box,” he said.

He plans to serve chargrilled figs with a type of dulce de leche made from goat’s milk and served with edible flowers he is growing from his own garden. Almost all of his ingredients are sourced from Utah, because he felt it was important for the meal to represent Park City.

“My approach to the whole dinner is to give everybody a taste of Utah, not just a taste of the chefs,” he said.

Each of the courses will also be paired with an alcoholic beverage, and many of the drinks are local. Harris, for example, is using Red Rock Brewery, Zane Holmquist is using Mountain West Cider and Adams is using Parallel Wines, whose owners live in Park City.

Harris has had the opportunity to serve at the James Beard House previously, and he said that it can help build camaraderie among chefs who are often competitive against each other. He expects that it will be the same at the upcoming event.

“It’s bigger than just one chef,” he said. “We are representing a community and where we live, and that is the bigger picture.”

He said it has been fun to see the culinary culture grow in Park City, and he said being invited to the James Beard House and having the event sell out is reflective of that.

Ries said one of the main goals of the event, besides offering the opportunity to local chefs, is to turn people’s eyes to Park City as not just a place to ski and mountain bike, but to enjoy incredible food.

“What we hope to have come out of this is to reiterate that Park City has a very strong culinary scene, and one that should be taken seriously,” she said. “It further solidifies our stamp on the map.”

Adams said as the state grows and more restaurants come, he expects the competition to fuel an even higher quality culinary culture in Utah and Park City. He is eager to see it grow.

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