Bon Appétit East Coast Chefs Cook at the Historic James Beard House

The Beard House dinner team

The Beard House dinner team, left to right: MIT Director of Culinary Operations Brian Dagnall, St. John’s College General Manager (and former Executive Chef) Michael Cleary, Roger Williams University Executive Chef Jonathan Cambra, Brown University Directory of Culinary Operations Ty Paup, University of Pennsylvania Campus Executive Chef Christopher Smith, and Johns Hopkins University Campus Executive Chef Philippe Chin

The James Beard House in New York City occupies an historic, sacred place in the culinary world. It is considered a great honor for a chef to be invited to prepare a multicourse meal at the Greenwich Village townhouse where Beard, the late champion of American cuisine, perfected his recipes. Culinary legends who have cooked at the House include Daniel Boulud, Emeril Lagasse, Wolfgang Puck, Jacques Pépin, and Marcus Samuelsson.

Campus Executive Chef Philippe Chin helps plate the hors d’oeuvres

Campus Executive Chef Philippe Chin helps plate the hors d’oeuvres

“There’s a different feeling being at James Beard House when you know that it was the place where James did all his cooking demonstrations, wrote his cookbooks, where he lived,” said Philippe Chin, Bon Appétit campus executive chef at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Philippe is practically a House regular, having cooked at there 12 times since 1991. “It’s a special feeling for a chef to be in the home of the ‘grandfather of American cookery.’”

During a catering workshop for Bon Appétit East Coast chefs held at Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI, last year, Philippe hatched an idea for a very special dinner showcasing the chefs’ regional specialties, as well as what some of the best campus food looks like. He reached out to his contacts at the James Beard Foundation, which oversees the House, and they quickly agreed. Joining Philippe were Jonathan Cambra, executive chef at Roger Williams (making his seventh appearance cooking at the House); Brian Dagnall, director of culinary operations at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA; Ty Paup, director of culinary operations at Brown University in Providence, RI; Christopher Smith, campus executive chef at University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia; and Michael Cleary, the former executive chef and now general manager at St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD.

The chefs worked alongside Bon Appétit Director of Specialty Culinary Programs Jim Dodge (another House veteran) to create a cohesive menu featuring produce from Bon Appétit’s regional Farm to Fork vendors. Many clients from the chefs’ campuses and other Bon Appétit locations in the Northeast region were invited and made the journey to New York City to experience this milestone event, titled “Back to School.”

The culinary journey began as guests filtered into the courtyard through the famous kitchen and enjoyed three incredible hors d’oeuvres prepared by Jon (see menu at botttom). Next, James Beard Foundation Director of Programming Izabela Wojcik gave the guests a taste of the House’s storied history and expressed her appreciation for Bon Appétit’s standard setting for the food service industry. (Bon Appétit CEO Fedele Bauccio was honored with one of the inaugural James Beard Leadership Awards in 2011.)

Apple and almond pithivier

Brian’s apple and almond pithivier with star anise–scented crème chiboust and stem ginger cassata finished the meal

Each dish for the seated dinner was executed meticulously, and the guests were blown away by the bold, unique flavors each chef brought to the table. After the dinner, Izabela brought out the chefs to share the process and decisions behind each dish, and to answer questions. They talked at length about their zeal for using locally grown, fresh ingredients in new ways. Their passion and creativity were the perfect ending to an incredible night.

“What a wonderful evening we had at the James Beard House — we appreciated being included,” wrote Randy S. Stevens, Head of School at St. Timothy’s School in Stevenson, MD.

Submitted by Victoria McGrath, Marketing Manager


James Beard House
“Back to School” Menu

Hors d’Oeuvres

Nantucket Bay scallop with citrus, fennel, and sea urchin butter
Lamb Kielbasa with red onion jam, grain mustard, and biscuit
Sweet Potato Beignet with hot honey crème fraîche
Jonathan Cambra, Executive Chef, Roger Williams University


Roasted Tri-Color Carrots
with bacon, baby arugula, and maple vinaigrette
Christopher Smith, Campus Executive Chef, University of Pennsylvania

Seared Virginia Line-Caught Rockfish Fillet
with sunchoke purée, winter squash fondant, blue crab reduction, and Old Bay cracker
Philippe Chin, Campus Executive Chef, Johns Hopkins University

Paillard of Celeriac “Arrosé d’Herbes Fraîches”
with potato gnocchi, cannellini beans, pickled cèpes, and winter greens–almond pesto
Michael Cleary, General Manager (former Executive Chef), St. John’s College

Lambrusco-Braised Lamb’s Neck
with rye spaetzle, hen of the woods, harissa turnips, and charred leek yogurt
Ty Paup, Director of Culinary Operations, Brown University

Apple and Almond Pithivier
with star anise–scented crème chiboust and stem ginger cassata
Brian Dagnall, Director of Culinary Operations, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Featured Farms

Aquidneck Honey, Tiverton, RI (Roger Williams University)
Blackhorse Farms, Coxsackie, NY (University of Pennsylvania)
Dan Graiff Farms, Newfield, NJ (University of Pennsylvania)
Eagle Road Farm, Quarryville, PA (Johns Hopkins University)
Emerick’s Pure Maple Products, Hyndman, PA (University of Pennsylvania)
High Lawn Farm, Lee, MA (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Horse Listeners Orchard, Ashford, CT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Liberty Delight Farms, Reisterstown, MD (University of Pennsylvania)
Little Rhody Farms, Foster, RI (Brown University)
Maine Grains, Skowhegan, ME (Brown University)
Pearlstone Farm, Reisterstown, MD (Johns Hopkins University)
RI Mushroom Company, West Kingston, RI (Brown University)
Schartner Farms, Exeter, RI (Roger Williams University)
South Mountain Creamery, Middletown, MD (Johns Hopkins University)
Windmist Farm, Jamestown, RI (Roger Williams University)
Zook Family Farm, New Holland, PA (Johns Hopkins University)