TuttoToscana 2017 – James Beard Foundation Gala Dinner

By Kerry Callender

The capstone event of the TuttoToscana event week was a success!

The big day had finally arrived and the event was sold out! Months of painstaking planning, weeks of trials and tastings, and long days of intense preparation had culminated in the most anticipated event of the TuttoToscana cycle – the gala dinner at the James Beard Foundation.

Brigade members reported to the James Beard House at 8:00 am to begin production, while the front-of-the-house team huddled in the fourth-floor board room to work out last minute details for the evening’s menu and wine presentation.

Under the curious gaze of some guests and the JBF Kitchen Cam, brigade members prepared a lavish six-course meal reflecting the theme Fragments of Tuscany. The mild October weather proved ideal for serving the aperitivo course in the outdoor garden area and the evening got off to a great start. Guests occupied tables on three floors of the House and seated service began with a baccalà antipasto, exquisitely paired with a Montecarlo Rosso DOC 2015 from Fattoria del Teso.

JBF staff served course after course with clockwork precision and each was enthusiastically received by our guests. From the electric energy of the dining room, to the bare contents of finished plates, to the smiles and compliments from diners, we garnered positive feedback about the guest experience in real time.

Wine and olive oil representatives, Enrico Contini of Vias Imports Ltd. (wine) and Joanne Lacina of Sun Grove Foods, Inc. (representing Pruneti olive oil), were also on hand to talk to guests about their respective products featured at the dinner. Many people took advantage of the opportunity to speak directly with our providers as they both stayed for the entire evening interacting with guests and energizing the front-of-the house team.

It was a great honor to welcome Francesco Genuardi, Consul General of Italy in New York and Deputy Consul, Isabella Periotto to the JBF gala dinner. FUA guests also included faculty and administrators from several educational institutions such as Fairfield University, Fashion Institute of Technology, Johnson & Wales University, Kirkwood Community College, Robert Morris University, Rutgers University, SUNY Stony Brook University, University of South Florida, Truman High School, and the High School of Fashion Industries.

Dinner ended with the presentation of our talented brigade, who were greeted with rousing applause from guests. It was their moment in the spotlight and boy did they shine! Brigade member, Justin Parrish, captures the team’s consensus about the TuttoToscana experience:

From Tuscany to New York City to the kitchen at the James Beard House, this last month has been an unforgettable experience with weeks full of long days, hard work and intense preparation. The honor of cooking in the kitchen of James Beard is something I will never forget and will always cherish. The memories of our flavors, the faces of our team and the feeling of watching beautiful food go out of the kitchen are the moments that I will always remember.

As the TuttoToscana team presented Fragments of Tuscany to a receptive New York audience, the memory of this experience has been indelibly etched in our hearts and minds.

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