On the heels of some some pretty significant James Beard news yesterday, it was announced today that John Griffiths, Executive Chef of Truffles Restaurant, has been invited to cook at the James Beard House on June 26, 2012. It's a high honor indeed. The last time a local chef was invited by the Beard Foundation was five years ago, when Annie Gunns' Lou Rook III cooked a St. Patrick's Day dinner there on March 17, 2007. (Several weeks ago, it was announced that Chef Jim Fiala will also be cooking at the Beard House, but the March 20 event is a private affair hosted by True Refrigeration of O'Fallon, MO.)
During the last year, Chef Griffiths and Truffles GM Aleks Jovanovic have put the restaurant back on local radar. In the October 2011 "Best New Restaurants" issue, St. Louis Magazine felt strongly enough to create a category for it, dubbing Truffles "Best New Reinvention."
In today's release, the Director of House Programming for the James Beard Foundation, Izabela Wojcik, commented that "The foundation’s mission is to celebrate, preserve and nurture America’s culinary heritage and future. We selectively invite emerging chefs to share their talents with Foundation members and the public by presenting lunches, brunches, workshops and dinners."
Chef Griffiths was humbled by the invitation. “Having the opportunity to prepare dinner at the James Beard House is truly an honor," he said. "An invitation to cook at the Beard House is unrivaled and truly a career highlight like no other.” The James Beard Foundation sets the standard for culinary excellence in the country, and I’m proud to use this opportunity to bring more attention to St. Louis and the amazing talent that’s emerging here.”
Even though the dinner will be held in New York City, guests will experience very local touches. Griffiths' favorite farmers and suppliers will be represented, as will regional wines. Jovanovic is busy selecting a handful of representative wines to complement the six-course dinner. "Our goal is to give both the Foundation and guests a snapshot of everything that's going on here," noted Griffiths. "We will even provide dinner guests with a gift bag laden with locally-based products."
According to the release, Beard Foundation members, "as well as supporters of Truffles," can purchase all-inclusive tickets for $130 per person. Tickets for the general public are $170 per person and both will be available beginning March 7 by calling 212-627-2308. Online reservations will be accepted here beginning April 1.