The James Beard Foundation will honor Chef Marcus Samuelsson at its annual "Chefs & Champagne" fundraiser and tasting party on Saturday. Held under a sprawling white tent at Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, the event will feature flowing champagne, Wölffer Estate wines, and culinary offerings from a select group of over 40 fine chefs.
Local chefs at this year's event include Stephan Bogardus of the North Fork Table & Inn in Southold, Brian Cheewing of Wölffer Kitchen in Sag Harbor and Amagansett, Philippe Corbet of Lulu Kitchen & Bar in Sag Harbor, Dominic Rice of Calissa in Water Mill, and Galen Zamarra of the Halyard in Greenport.
Funds raised at the event help support the James Beard Foundation's wide variety of initiatives, including culinary student scholarships and the organization's annual food conference on sustainability, public health, and nutrition. A silent auction consisting of fine dining experiences, wines and spirits, cookware, and culinary travel packages will also raise funds for the organization.
How did you become involved with the Chefs & Champagne event?
I was contacted by James Beard Foundation president Susan Ungaro and was thrilled to be honored this year. I think about the previous chefs honored before me -- Mildred, Julia, Jacques -- and what this organization represents and I'm extremely humbled.
What are you looking forward to most at this year's event?
I always look forward to seeing my chef friends, and getting to know any new chefs I haven't yet met. Overall, it's just the best day with some of the best chefs around, endless champagne, and people coming together for a great cause to support culinary education.
What are some of your favorite summer dishes?
I always think about summer in terms of mackerel. That was the lunch I grew up with in summer and we caught the fish ourselves. My sisters would boil the potatoes and I would sear the fish and we'd cook it in the cast iron skillet with butter. We had potato salad with fish, chopped chives, and dill and that was our summer dish.
What are some of your favorite places to go when you're in The Hamptons?
When I'm there I tend to spend time at the homes of friends cooking and having a good time. I'll hop around to a few restaurants as well. I love to ask the locals where their favorite place at the moment is, and then I go there. I love exploring and going off the grid. The best place might not be the most popular place, you never know.
The event will be held from 5 to 10 PM. For tickets, which start at $200 for members and $275 for non-members, visit www.jamesbeard.org/chefsandchampagne.