Eating with James

If a James Beard award is the food world's equivalent of an Oscar, then cooking at the James Beard house must be a pressure-packed night for a chef. For many chefs, it's a step in gaining respect and recognition amongst their peers.

Since I enrolled at the French Culinary Institute last year, I've cooked alongside chefs from all over the country and world who come to the Beard house to cook dinner. I've rolled fresh spring rolls stuffed with lobster, deep fried delicate soft shell crabs, helped plate towering desserts of strawberry tuiles and anything else a chef and his assistants needed help with to pull off a successful dinner. I quickly learned some chefs handle the pressure cool and calmly while others sweat through the three-hour, multi-course meals.

Recently, I had a chance to be on the other side as a guest. Chef Evan Percoco of BOKX 109 American Prime was up for the challenge this time.

As usual, the evening started off with hors d'oeuvres (Nantucket Bay scallops, maitake fritters, prawns with a gremolata and saffron aioli) and flowing bottles of brut rose. But what I couldn't wait for was dinner.

Of the five courses, I still daydream about the bacon and egg dish. It's not as simple as it sounds. First the pork belly is seared on all sides for crispness before it's finished in the oven. Then the egg is delicately poached and cooled before it's rolled in some itty bitty bread crumbs and then quickly deep fried. With a glass of crisp Chardonnay, it couldn't get much better.

The fun you have as a diner is different from one you get in the kitchen. But when food prepared with care, it's something that everyone enjoys in the end.

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            5 Program(s) Found
            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
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            • Flexible Scheduling
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            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
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            • Students get real-world experience through the required externship at the end of the program.
            • Curriculum includes laboratory sessions, academic preparation and hands-on experience.
            • Program objectives are to provide students with skills needed for cooking wholesome, attractive, food preparations and to assist graduates in obtaining positions in the food service industry.
            • Accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACF).
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            Salter College , West Boylston
            • Offers training programs in preparation for professional careers in business, health care, and computers.
            • Provides associate and certificate programs in medical assisting, massage therapy, culinary arts, and more.
            • Places students in externships to gain real world experience before completing their respective program.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
            • 2 campuses in Chicopee and West Boylston, Massachusetts.
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            L'Ecole Culinaire , Kansas City
            • Offers educational opportunities for the aspiring, career-minded chef.
            • Students are trained by professional chefs and spend the majority of their final term working in the campus restaurant to learn all phases of the culinary industry.
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            • Offers externship experiences to students for experience in the field.
            • Hosts regular career fairs for employer recruitment.
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            • Accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC).
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            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
            • An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
            • 15,000 graduates, including celebrities like Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Christina Tosi*
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