The Inaugural Taste of Waldorf Astoria

Thursday nights are always a busy time here in NYC thanks in part to art galleries, concerts, restaurant openings, in-store events, etc. but sometimes there are events that are so New York that everything else on the calendar takes an immediate back seat. Last Thursday at The Waldorf Astoria’s Starlight Room, two titans of the food world (The James Beard Foundation x The Waldorf Astoria) came together for the inaugural Taste of Waldorf Astoria. The event brought together five pairs of world renowned chefs (Waldorf Astoria Master Chefs; Pierre Gagnaire, Heinz Beck, The Galvin Brothers, Jan Van Dyk, Jimmy Schmidt and 2014 James Beard Rising Star Chefs; David Posey, Chris Kajioka, Marjorie Meek Bradley, Eddie Ruiz) to create five dishes to be judged by Andrew Knowlton (bon appétit), Yvon Ros (James Beard Foundation), Marc Ehrler (Hilton Worldwide Head Corporate Chef), Nilou Motamed (Formerly of and Travel + Leisure) in hopes that their creation will become the new iconic Waldorf Astoria dish, joining the menus and becoming a part of the other signature plates originated at the Waldorf such as eggs benedict, the waldorf salad and red velvet cake.

As the champagne flowed and the luxurious and beautifully lit room glistened, surrounded by so many food and lifestyle experts, we all took our seats to begin indulging in the exquisite art-like plates presented before us. We started with a velvety pumpkin soup and melt-in-your-mouth grilled scallop accompanied by a “biscuit” set up on a beet puree and topped with a cheese gelee. The second dish (and winner of the challenge) was a celery root risotto, made with chicken stock and white wine and topped with so many black truffles it was hard not to lick the plate clean. Third was a modern take on “surf ‘n’ turf” as chefs Schmidt and Ruiz presented seared pork belly with poached shrimp on vegan grits followed by a ‘Caledonian Highland Egg’ and finished with suckling pig complimented with seared brussel sprouts, quinoa and a handmade dumpling. Of course the meal would not be complete without a sweet finish, compliments of (what else) a mini red velvet cupcake.

“The James Beard Foundation is dedicated to supporting chefs throughout their professional journey, so it was thrilling to watch these emerging and energetic chefs bring a fresh energy to the kitchens of established masters,” said Susan Ungaro, president, James Beard Foundation. The “Celery Risotto alla Waldorf” dish from Chef Heinz Beck, of Rome Cavalieri, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, and 2014 James Beard Rising Star Chef David Poseycelery root risotto will now be available on 26 Waldorf Astoria menus world-wide. 


About the Author

Jillian Magenheim is the Editorial Director and Director of Partnerships for She is also a digital media consultant for various fashion and beauty brands. You can follow her thoughts on Twitter @Magenhaz and on Instagram @jillianrose_m