Stories / Foundation News

Letter from the President: James Beard Across the U.S.A.

Susan Ungaro

Susan Ungaro

September 17, 2015


By the time you read this, we’ll be in the final stretch of summer. This is the time of year when our offices are buzzing with excitement about our fall lineup of programs and events. And at home, my family is still enjoying an abundance of zucchini and the great Jersey tomatoes from my husband Colin’s vegetable garden. (See this easy and delicious James Beard recipe, below. I use refrigerated biscuit dough.)

Our director of house programming, Izabela Wojcik, has planned some wonderful Beard House dinners. And more than 20 great dinners will be happening all across America as part of our Celebrity Chef Tour and Friends of James Beard Benefit events.

We’re also about to embark on our third annual JBF Taste America program, which will bring us to ten cities throughout the fall. This year our All-Star chefs include Hugh Acheson, April Bloomfield, Traci Des Jardins, Rocco DiSpirito, Tyler Florence, Mark Ladner, Tony Mantuano, Michel Nischan, Art Smith, Jonathan Waxman, and our Honorary All-Star John Besh, who helped us kick off the program. 

Back home, we’re planning the menu for our annual fall gala on November 13. We’re especially excited about our theme celebrating New York, New York, at the iconic Rainbow Room, with a stellar lineup of James Beard Award–winning New York City chefs. James Beard would have loved all the excitement we’re cooking up!

—Susan Ungaro
President, The James Beard Foundation

James Beard’s Tomato and Cheese Pie

“The tomato, or love apple, was originally raised as a decorative plant, and because of its relationship to the nightshade family was long suspected of being too poisonous to eat.” 
—James Beard, American Cookery (1972)

If you’re a longtime member who has read my letters each year, you know that one of my favorite seasons is upon us: tomato season! Here’s one of James Beard’s many wonderful recipes for delicious, ripe tomatoes.

1 recipe biscuit dough* 
4 to 6 peeled ripe tomatoes, cut into thick slices
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 ½ cups mayonnaise
1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, Gruyère, or jack cheese)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch pie pan with the biscuit dough. Cover with layers of the sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with the basil, salt, and pepper. Blend the mayonnaise and the cheese and spread over the tomatoes. Bake until the crust is done and the top is nicely browned, about 20 minutes.

Note: James Beard’s recipe for baking powder biscuit dough can be found here. You can also use refrigerated biscuit dough.