New York City – On May 18, Haitian Flag Day, the James Beard Foundation hosted a dinner with an all-star lineup of Haitian chefs. James Beard, a name synonymous with fine cuisine, provided guests with the opportunity to take part in the celebration by showcasing Haiti’s rich and flavorful cuisine.
James Beard left behind a culinary legacy which continues to live on through his foundation, whose mission is to “celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone.” On that night, Haiti’s culture was celebrated, its people nurtured, and the cuisine honored. The chefs came together and again demonstrated that when its people unite, magic happens!
Flag Day for Haitians is a day of pride. A day to commemorate the courage of the world’s first black republic and unity in their fight for freedom and independence. It was the perfect evening for dinner Host Chef Stephan Berrouet-Durand; president and co-founder of the Haitian Culinary Alliance and Chef Lucmann Pierre; of Le Pierre Caterers, along with six other talented Haitian chefs, to come together to create an array of traditional yet uniquely surprising samples of the nation’s delectable heritage.
Cocktail Hour was served outside. Guests delighted in an array of hors d’oeuvre like Legumes on Brioche Crostini and Smoked Hareng Chiktay on Cassava, along with a signature Flag Day Punch cocktail made with White Rhum Barbancourt, grapefruit, lime and simple syrup.
Dinner was six courses, along with carefully paired cocktails all made from Rhum Barbancourt. Chef Melissa Francois, of Asu Rooftop Lounge, started with the Revolution Coconut Curry, a twist on the traditional pumpkin soup eaten on Haitian Independence Day. The Kabrit Kreole, by Chef Jouvens Jean, of JeanCo Food Concept in Miami arrived under a blown-glass sphere, that, once whisked away by servers, emitted steam with the aroma of Haitian coffee in which the Sous Vide goat tenderloin had been rubbed.
Perhaps one of the most interesting dishes was by Chef Natacha Gomez of Kokiyaj Bar & Grill in Cap-Haitien. Chef Natasha turned the popular Haitian black mushroom rice “Riz Djondjon,” into encrusted grilled cashew balls with Taino-styled red snapper and creole cream sauce inside.
Agrikol’s Chef Paul Harry Toussaint, ended the night on a sweet note with his Pain Patate, a sweet potato pudding with Rum Raisin ice cream, yuzu syrup and crunchy coconut.
With each carefully orchestrated course, you felt the beat of the country, the depth of its richness, and understood the heart of the people.
Visit www.jamesbeard.org for more information about dinners at the James Beard House, as well as other James Beard Foundation programs and events.