We considered billing this event the Dinner of the Millennium, but we met a few obstacles. The naysayers argued the designation was premature, reminding us that it's only the first month of the first year of the next 1,000. We reminded them that with a lineup of chefs this extraordinary, we were confident this gala dinner would pass the test of time. Then someone pointed out that all of the events in our Dinner of the Decade series are characterized by fantastic collaborations between James Beard Award-winning chefs, internationally renowned winemakers, and acclaimed cultural institutions, not to mention a few local food luminaries. So although Dinner of the Millennium passed our truth-in-reporting test, we opted for restraint. Dinner of the Decade it is. And if you plan to be anywhere near Dallas, and even if you don't, you should think about making your reservations today.
Dallas darling Stephan Pyles is coordinating the dinner, which will raise money for both the Beard Foundation and our cultural partner for this event, the Dallas Supporters of Fort Worth Dallas Ballet. It's no exaggeration to say that Pyles reinvented Southwestern cooking at Star Canyon. The place (and its chef) has won more awards than we can possibly relate here. Pyles was lauded by The New York Times as "an absolute genius in the kitchen," and in 1991 he was named American Express Best Chef: Southwest by yours truly. Today, he also serves cutting-edge Southwestern cuisine at his latest Dallas venture, AquaKnox.
If Pyles revolutionized Southwestern cooking, Norman Van Aken practically invented New World cuisine at his award-winning Norman's in Coral Gables, Florida. Norman's has been showered with accolades, including nods from Condé Nast Traveler and Gourmet. In 1997 Van Aken was named American Express Best Chef: Southeast. No slouch herself, Nancy Silverton has been busy changing the face of bread baking in America. In part because of Silverton's talent and efforts to promote artisanal loaf making, last year America, once derided as the land of Wonder Bread, beat out the French (quelle horreur! the land of baguettes!) to win the prestigious Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie. In addition to owning the critically acclaimed Campanile restaurant and the adjacent La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles, Silverton is the author of three cookbooks, and is the 1991 recipient of the James Beard Foundation Outstanding Pastry Chef award.
What can we tell you that you don't already know about Emeril Lagasse? After all, he's been on the cover of People! And he has the respect of the food press, too. In 1990, Lagasse left a comfortable job as chef at the celebrated Commander's Palace in New Orleans to open Emeril's, and the rest is history. He is the host of his own TV shows (two of them); the author of six cookbooks, most recently Everyday's a Party; and the owner of six restaurants from New Orleans to Florida to Las Vegas. He's also a past winner of the Foundation's American Express Best Chef: Southeast (1991). Bam! Joachim Splichal has kept his restaurant empire mostly local. It all began with Patina, of which Zagat's once wrote, "Go and experience the rapture." His contemporary California-French cuisine was (and is) so popular that Splichal and his wife, Christine, soon felt compelled to spread it around. They opened four eat-eries elsewhere in Los Angeles, as well as Pinot Blanc in the Napa Valley. In 1991, we recognized Splichal with our American Express Best Chef: California award.
What gala Beard Foundation dinner would be complete without Michael Ginor? Ginor is a Beard Foundation Angel and the owner of Hudson Valley Foie Gras in Ferndale, New York. But his most recent accomplishment is literary-he is the coauthor of Foie Gras: A Passion (Wiley), winner of the 1999 Prix la Mazille for the best cookbook in the world!
The Wyndham Antatole Hotel has kindly offered to lend us the use of its kitchens as well as its beautiful Wedgwood Room for our gala dinner. The elegant room holds an extensive collection of Wedgwood, including the single largest piece ever fired. Dinner of the Decade guests will dine on Wedgwood and take home a gift of the fine china.
If you feel the need to supplement your star-studded dinner extravaganza with other food-related events, we're happy to oblige with a weekend full of special activities. On Friday, you can meet Ginor, taste his silken foie gras, and get a signed copy of his award-winning cookbook. Saturday, we'll take you on a tour of The Mozzarella Company, owned by Paula Lambert, and Sunday, you'll enjoy brunch in a private home. Stanley Marcus is serving as honorary chairman for the gala dinner, so as a special treat, you'll get a private tour of the Neiman Marcus chain's flagship 1907 Dallas store.
Unless the world of medicine undergoes some pretty revolu-tionary changes, chances are you won't be around the entire next millennium. Better catch this dinner now.
Smoked Pheasant-Green Chile Chowder with Cranberry "Tamale" Dumpling
Circle of Foie Gras and Curly Cabbage with Shallot Confit
Norman Van Aken
Rhum and Pepper Painted Fish on Cuban Sweet Potato and Conch Frita Mash with Mango-Habanero Mojo
Braised Oxtail over Cheese-Andouille Grits Cake with Southern Cooked Greens and Cabernet Syrup
Blum's Coffee Crunch Cake
Air transportation for the chefs provided by American Airlines.