The James Beard Foundation

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167 West 12th Street
New York, NY 10011

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Special Event
Jack Leonardi Richard Benz Brian Larson Emanuel Loubier
A Taste of N'Awlins
Coordinating Chef
Jack Leonardi
New Orleans
Richard Benz
Dick and Jenny's
New Orleans
Brian Larson
Clancy's Restaurant
New Orleans
Emanuel Loubier
Dante's Kitchen
New Orleans

Tuesday, August 27, 7:00 P.M.
Members $95, guests $120

The Big Apple may boast that we have it all, but we don’t have New Orleans, and let’s face it, we’ve got nothing that even comes close. OK, with luck we may be able to get a decent cup of coffee, but not that quintessential Big Easy brew with chicory, served up with a warm, sugar-dusted beignet. Certainly no self-respecting New Yorker would turn down Manhattan clam chowder, but does it really hold a candle to a bowlful of peppery gumbo, brimming with crayfish? And there’s scarcely a po’ boy in Manhattan worthy of the name. This month, Beardies with a soft spot in their hearts for the one-of-a-kind fare served in the Crescent City can have their fill of grits and redfish at our Taste of N’Awlins dinner, when not one, not two, but four resident chefs and friends cook up a spread as big and rich as the Delta city itself.

At Jacques-Imo’s, Jack Leonardi, coordinating chef for this special dinner, serves Creole-soul cuisine that captures all the spice and spirit of the city. Leonardi, a graduate of the Coast Guard Academy, fell in love with New Orleans and its food when stationed there in the ’80s. While still in the service, he began working with Paul Prudhomme at K’Paul’s. It was an eye-opening experience. Leonardi also trained with Austin Leslie, one of the all-time heroes of soul food cooking, at Chez Hélène. By 1996, he was ready to run the show. At Jacques-Imo’s, he serves the kind of food that keeps ’em coming back for more, such as smoked boudin with Creole mustard hollandaise, and bronzed amberjack with shrimp in jalapeño sauce.

Brian Larson moved to New Orleans from his home in Des Moines, Iowa, to get into the restaurant business. He was immediately hired at Clancy’s, the popular Big Easy eatery singled out by Food & Wine for its much-loved fried softshell crab sandwich topped with lump crabmeat. After two years as line cook, Larson was tapped to be sous-chef, and within a year, he was wearing the top toque. Under his watch, Clancy’s received a “four bean” review from The Times-Picayune. But Larson isn’t hanging his laurels on that achievement alone. Earlier this year, he became proprietor of Lee Circle Restaurant, a new venture specializing in elegant Creole cuisine.

Larson and Leonardi will be joined at the Beard stoves by Richard Benz, who owns the small, intimate Dick and Jenny’s with his wife. Writing in The Times-Picayune, Paul Greenberg advised his readers to “go hungry…you wouldn’t think a little bargeboard house could boast such big, imaginative cuisine—but think again.” Benz, a graduate of UCLA and the CIA, picked up a few things while working at Gautreau’s and Commander’s Palace. At Dick and Jenny’s, Benz has created a stir. Zagat respondents claim that they “would follow him to hell for French-Creole food that’s out of this world.”

New York native Emanuel Loubier moved to New Orleans after graduating from Rutgers University with a degree in botany. He paid his rent by working as a line cook, first at Café Savannah (now the home of Jacques-Imo’s), and then with Kevin Vizzard, who was opening his first restaurant, Bayou Ridge. Next, Loubier completed one year at that bastion of fine French fare, Henri. He put in ten years of service at Commander’s Palace, which readied him to strike out on his own. At Dante’s Kitchen, he delights locals with his homey rendition of fine Creole fare.


Shrimp Rémoulade
Crab Ravigote
Marinated Crab Claws
     Chalk Hill Vineyard Estate Selection Pinot Grigio 1999

Oyster and Brie with Wilted Baby Spinach

     Panther Creek Reserve Pinot Noir 1999

Corn and Crab Bisque

     Cakebread Cellars Napa Valley Chardonnay 2000

Deep-Fried Jalapeño Cheese Grits with Tasso-Shrimp Sauce

     Eroica Riesling 2001

Blackened Redfish with Green Tomato–Crab Sauce

     Caymus Conundrum 2000

Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie

     Bonny Doon Ca’ Del Solo Freisa 2001


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