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NYC: a dinner that dazzles

Bon appetit!

James Beard was America’s first ‘Celebrity TV chef’. As a fitting memorial to him (he died at 81 in 1985) his townhouse in Greenwich Village operates as a sort of rolling dinner party for New York city food enthusiasts and knowledgeable out-of -towners.

A roster of guest chefs and their teams take it in turn to bring their skills and their concepts to a room full of discerning diners. (Go online to see who’s cooking and book accordingly). Price for dinner is $170, which includes a drinks reception and a five course meal with wine pairings. There’s no charge for the house-party ambience and the interesting dinner companion you’ll meet.

At 7pm, guests (maximum 80) assemble and enter at the ground floor level. The route to the pre-dinner drinks party is through the tiny kitchen where the evening’s team is already at work. At the rear of the house is the party space where diners circulate while nibbling on a variety of hors d’oeuvre, enjoying a drink and chatting with their fellow guests. At 8pm the party moves upstairs where guests will learn at which table they’ll be seated and greet their table mates.

The chef and his team are determined to dazzle and most visitors find the experience truly memorable. The chef explains the dishes and discusses the dinner with the guests after the meal.

Beard’s home on West 12th Street is also headquarters of the James Beard Foundation, an organisation that, among other activities, offers scholarships to young chefs. A portion of the dinner fee supports the Foundation.

Dinners are served on about 200 evenings of the year. To book, contact the James Beard House on its website: www.jamesbeard.org; the complete calendar is posted on the website one month in advance and you can book online through OpenTable. Or call the reservations department directly at 212.627.2308. Payment is at time of booking. There is no tax and no tipping. House policies regarding refunds and special requests for food allergies or table assignments are posted on the website.

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