Cafe Society

Start spreading the news: The Denver FIVE bring their Mile High culinary magic to the James Beard House in New York

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Johansen got an unexpected surprise, too. "On the first day we were there," she says, "I met the man who was Julia Child's first assistant, and he was all revved up and excited because Julia Child's menu was featured that night at the Beard House for what would have been her 100th birthday. He showed me personal photos, told me stories and really gave me a special peek at events that took place with Julia Child and James Beard years ago."

Next year, a new group of chefs will comprise FIVE, and they, too, will have the honor of cooking in Beard's famous kitchen. And the chefs who just returned from New York have a few nuggets of advice. "Prepare for the worst, because anything can happen," warns Scott. "You could lose your food, have no space, or find out about surprise vegetarian/gluten-free/lactose-intolerant guests. The best advice I have is to roll with the punches. That's key."

Rosenberg, who recovered from the calamity caused by FedEx, quips, "Don't try and ship soup!" On a more serious note, he says, be prepared to "cook in a small kitchen, with less than a day to get everything done. And bring your A-game, because New York City diners get to sample the very best of the best on a daily basis. You can't bring anything but perfection, or you won't look good."

Mohammad advises guest chefs to "go into it with an open mind and an open heart. Don't take the opportunity for granted, because it truly is the culinary mecca for chefs."

For humbled food writers, too. I spent the entire evening of the FIVE Beard House dinner in the cramped kitchen with the chefs (mostly getting in the way and bumping butts with just about everyone), observing our remarkable culinary talent for several hours, and watching it all unfold in front of me is an experience that I wish everyone could repeat with me. There's always next year, but in case you're wondering what you missed this year, here's a photo recap.

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson