How Chefs are Invited to Cook at the Beard House
The James Beard Foundation's mission is to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America's food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone. Towards this end, chefs are invited to “perform” at the Beard House by presenting dinners to Foundation members and the public.
Recommendations for potential chefs can come from various sources: chefs, members, staff, volunteer program committee members, or other interested parties.
Chefs are invited by the director of house programming based on the following criteria:
- national or regional reputation, as evidenced by press and resume/biography
- known use of high quality, seasonal, and/or local ingredients
- demonstrated excellence in a particular discipline: e.g. regional, ethnic, pastry
- financial stability and resources to partner with JBF for a New York event without negative consequences to own business
- desire on part of chef and restaurant
- level of interest in event by our dining members and their guests
- submission of complete event proposal, including menu and wines
Final selection is based on:
- thorough review of proposed event menu and wine list
- consideration of scheduled events to ensure diversity in the calendar
- consideration of holiday or theme events that may be appropriate matches for certain chefs
- judgment of director based on data, historical trends, and professional expertise
The Chef Selection Committee
The committee is comprised of food and wine professionals and gastronomic enthusiasts who represent the Foundation on a volunteer basis. The Committee meets monthly to recommend chefs and events to the director of house programming. Their participation broadens the universe of qualifying chefs, provides outside perspective and various areas of expertise and knowledge to the chef selection process, and creates a forum for discussion and exchange of travel and dining experiences as it relates to the Foundation’s in-house events.
Criteria for committee membership are:
- recommendation by current committee member, JBF staff member, or JBF trustee
- desire to participate on behalf of JBF’s best interest and in line with the Code of Ethics
- experience with, interest in, and enthusiasm for the culinary arts and restaurant dining
- demonstrated ability to judge restaurant and chef quality
- commitment to staying abreast of media coverage and current trends in dining
- working knowledge of wine and beverages
- public speaker ability
Responsibilities of chef selection committee members are to:
- exhibit professional behavior and comply with the JBF code of ethics, including not using the Foundation affiliation for personal gain, and full disclosure of any professional relationships with or vested interests in proposed event participants prior to considering recommendations
- secure complete chef proposal/press kits, including chef biography, restaurant fact sheet, sample menu and wine list, independent press, and proposed JBF menu (typically three to five passed hors d’oeuvre followed by a five-course tasting menu and matching wines for each course)
- act as liaison between scheduled chefs and JBF for events recommended by committee member
- represent the Foundation at events and interact with guests
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cooking at the Beard House
Once you’ve been invited to cook at the Beard House and you have agreed on a date for your event, you will receive an information packet via email that contains everything you need to know about what is expected of you and how the logistics of the event will unfold; the same information is available on this page. We are very much aware of the time and expense involved in coming to cook at the Beard House, and so we try to make everyone’s Beard House experience be as smooth and successful as possible. We are grateful for your support.
A typical dinner starts at 7:00 pm, with a 30 minute passed hors d’oeuvre reception. Guests enter through Mr. Beard’s kitchen to meet YOU and your team, and then proceed to Greenhouse Gallery room or garden, weather permitting, for passed hors d'oeuvre reception. Guests are seated at 7:30 pm and the JBF representative welcomes guests briefly. Dinner service begins at 7:45 pm.
Guest capacity for all events is 74. This will insure the best experience for both visiting chefs and our diners.
Depending on guest needs and the number of reservations for an event, we seat guests on the second floor—the main dining area—which has a capacity of 55, the greenhouse gallery on the first floor, which has a 12-seat round, and the front reception room, if needed. The private Peter Kump Boardroom on the fourth floor accommodates up to 12 guests for special occasions, while staying within the 74-guest maximum capacity.
View the Beard House kitchen floorplan.
The house kitchen is available to you early in the morning on the day of your event. If another event is not scheduled, it is sometimes possible to use the kitchen a day before your event. Please call us to discuss these arrangements. Local chefs generally prepare most of the menu in their own kitchens and transport food to the Beard House. Out-of-town chefs are advised to locate a host kitchen in New York where they can prep ahead of time. We will try to help you by providing a list of spaces and telephone numbers, if necessary.
We are proud to welcome you to James Beard’s kitchen, which has had support from Jade Range, True Refrigeration and other companies to make it the best use of space for your needs. We are confident that first-time chefs will have a wonderful experience and returning chefs will be pleasantly surprised.
View a full list of our kitchen equipment.
Kitchen Staff & Volunteers
Usually four to six kitchen staff members are needed at the time of service. It is optimal to have as many of your staff with you as possible, but we realize that this is not always feasible. In the Foundation’s spirit of education, we work closely with local culinary schools to provide chefs with both student and graduated volunteers. We also have a roster of dedicated food enthusiasts who possess varying degrees of training and experience. We can request up to three volunteers for the day of your event to augment your staff. We will do our best to confirm your volunteer request the week prior to your event. Please advise us of your needs as early as possible.
The local cooking schools include the ICC - International Culinary Center (formerly the French Culinary Institute), the Natural Gourmet Cookery School, ICE-Institute of Culinary Education (formerly Peter Kump Cooking School), among others.
Food Donations and Suppliers
Food and Wine Donations
Although the main purpose of your dinner at the James Beard Foundation is to showcase your talents, it also helps our mission to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America's food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone. Events such as yours are an important source of revenue for the Foundation. You are responsible for procuring the food and wine for your event. We encourage you to seek products at a discount or donations from your own purveyor. We have also listed our House Purveyors for your convenience (see logos below). We also encourage you to seek donations from wine and spirit companies, as this is a wonderful promotional opportunity for them. We have found that restaurant suppliers are often willing to contribute food and wine products for an event in exchange for credit on the menu and in our newsletter. We hope that you will explore this possibility with your suppliers. To include donation credits in our newsletter, please keep our publications deadlines in mind.
The House purveyors listed below have either provided goods and/or services to the Beard House on a regular basis, or they have agreed to donate product or provide product at a discount to chefs upon request. Please contact them directly for more information and place your order well in advance. We have also partnered with a number of suppliers who are available to donate product to your event. More complete information about these companies can be found in the emailed welcome documents which are sent to event participants.
Dining Room Details
Our professional service staff includes a maitre d’hotel, waiters (usually one per ten guests), and dishwashers. We provide their services for each event at no cost to the chef.
Setting and Ambiance
The Foundation does not provide floral or decorate centerpieces. We encourage chefs to decorate the dining areas in any way that will enhance the ambience of the event such as with linens, centerpieces, additional flowers, music, etc. Our house florist John Yarce can be contacted to arrange for flowers or centerpieces. He can be reached at 212-691-5412 or www.organicany.com. We have a sound system for playing CDs and ipods if music is desired during the reception hour. The floor plan and seating chart are available upon request.
Complimentary Seats/Additional Seats
For every event at the Beard House, JBF will set aside a total of 4 complimentary seats for your event, which can be used as you wish. If you need additional seats for your event (for family, media, management, sponsors, and anyone else who would like to come) they can be purchased at the discounted member’s rate. Please contact the Director of House Events, Claudia Karach at email@example.com with the names of the guests for the 4 complimentary seats and if you wish to purchase additional seats.
We encourage chefs to invite members of the media. Chefs are responsible for providing seats to the press as well as their other guests.
We encourage chefs to invite their supporters and loyal customers. As a courtesy, we will extend the discounted member’s rate to anyone who is referred by the restaurant with the shared discount code given to the chefs' teams. Guests need to call our reservations department directly, at 212.627.2308, and share the code to receive the member’s rate.
You are encouraged to print souvenir menus with wines and/or beverages for your event on your restaurant’s letterhead. Since guests often take the menu as a souvenir for the evening, it is an excellent opportunity to showcase your restaurant. Be as creative as you please with wine notes, history of the property, etc. If you prefer, we can print your menu on the Beard Foundation letterhead. Please also bring display materials, such as restaurant menu, cards, books, etc.
JBF contracts professional photographers for each dinner. Limited to kitchen shots of all the food, candid shots of the team in action, posed group shot in the kitchen, and the chef introduction at the end on the second floor.
We do not allow for photography of guests and the dining experience, as it is disruptive.
Photo turnaround time is 2 weeks. Our editors will email you the photo files once processed. If you wish to hire your own photographer, we’re happy to give them access. If you have questions about the status of photos after the dinner or if you have special publicity/press/photographic needs, please contact our Associate Editor, Maggie Borden, at 212.627.1111 ext. 559 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Visiting New York
For a listing of discounted hotel reservations in New York City, we recommend www.hotels.com. They offer an excellent selection of accommodations at every price level.
For more details, please contact Director of House Events Claudia Karach.
Guest Chef Program
The James Beard Guest Chef Program was created by Great Performances and the James Beard Foundation to unite visiting chefs with Great Performances’ New York City cafés. The program is an exciting approach to enhancing exposure for the chefs while providing café guests with a unique dining experience.
Initiated in September 2006, guest chefs from the James Beard House have had the opportunity to extend their New York City run by creating a special menu to be served at one of the cafés operated by Great Performances. The program has garnered great acclaim from diners as well as the chefs themselves. The specialty menus frequently complement the cuisine or style of the café, and on occasion, they even coincide with a particular performance or exhibit occurring in the arts institution that houses the café. For example, chef Michael Wei, a prominent Chinese chef, presented a Chinese menu at Sotheby’s the same week that it debuted a new collection of Chinese art. These thematic pairings increase public interest in the chef and create an enhanced experience for our guest chefs in New York. View the guest chefs here.