Chef She’s Adventures In NYC: Cooking Sustainable Seafood at the James Beard Foundation House

Last week, I had the very exciting opportunity to fly to New York City to cook at the James Beard Foundation house. This wasn’t my first time cooking at the James Beard House—that was way back in 2007 when I did a fall seafood dinner there with then-Jax Fish House chef Hosea Rosenberg. But cooking at the house is always an incredible experience. It’s an actual house in the city, with a teeny-tiny kitchen that’s incredible to cook in. The hoods to the oven are like six feet high, but it’s amazing in every way.

I was there to cook for a private dinner. The dinner itself was an auction item at a James Beard Foundation fundraiser event with the Smart Catch Program, a program focused on sustainable seafood. All of our Jax restaurants are leaders within the Smart Catch Program for our sustainable sourcing methods. 

I was cooking alongside four other chefs for this sustainable seafood dinner: Massimo Falsini of Rosewood Miramar Beach Montecito, Mike Han of Bamboo Sushi, Cathy Whims of Nostrana, and Bill Telepan of Oceana Restaurant. We each did a canapé for cocktail hour. I made a citrus-brined barramundi with cucumber aguachile, aji amarillo crema, and a mix of puffed grains, seeds, and nori seaweed on top as garnish.

For the second course, I did a play on shrimp toast. I made a shrimp mousse, spread it on bread, fried it, cut it into croutons, and served with a salad of Persian cucumbers, radishes, spring peas, pickled fennel, and pickled mustard seeds tossed together with lemon and extra virgin olive oil. We also did a little sea urchin on top of the shrimp toast. I was also responsible for a couple desserts, including a key lime custard with coconut tuile and vegan chocolate truffles that I rolled in all sorts of colorful flower petals. 

One of the highlights of the trip for me was shopping at the Union Square Greenmarket (which is just blocks away from the James Beard House) beforehand, where we bought fresh bread for the shrimp toast, peas, radishes, flowers, squash blossoms, cucumbers, and tons of fresh herbs like basil, cilantro, and dill. It was amazing to be able to find everything I needed to complement the sustainable seafood right there.