On Sept. 4, the James Beard Foundation, the august keepers of culinary tradition, will arrive in Nashville for a six-course dinner prepared by some of the best chefs in the South. Chef Martha Stamps of Martha’s at the Plantation, along with Karla Ruiz and Garrett Wallace, will host the six-course dinner in the carriage house at Belle Meade Plantation.
Check your store-bought mayonnaise at the door, because this is a group that does things the old-fashioned way. Joe Shaw from The Standard will kick off the evening with passed hors d’oeuvres including open-faced BLTs with candied hog-jowl bacon and heirloom tomatoes. City House’s Tandy Wilson will chime in with house-cured salami and lima beans sott’ olio.
Donald Link of Herbsaint in New Orleans, named best chef in the South by the Beard folks last year, will prepare Louisiana shrimp brandade with thyme-roasted trumpet mushrooms, and Mike Lata of FIG (Food Is Good) in Charleston is kicking in an over-easy raviolo with Sea Island pullet egg, brown butter, Kabocha squash and chanterelles.
John Fleer, formerly of Blackberry Farm and now at Sunburst Trout Co. in Canton, N.C., will deliver black-eyed pea-dusted Sunburst trout with Benton’s Country Ham and field pea ragoût.
Hostess Martha & Co. are already prepping for the feast, putting up jars of peaches for the entrée of collard-wrapped lamb barbacoa with spiced peach compote. For dessert, the home team will serve a peanut-crusted sweet potato pudding pie with sky-high meringue and Jack Daniel’s.
The dinner, which marks the JBF’s first official trip to Nashville, will benefit an oral history project that seeks to preserve the lore and techniques of classic American cooking traditions. No doubt, this group of culinary luminaries could tell some stories of their own. (“Remember that time you spilled black-eyed pea dust all over that pullet egg you got in Sea Island? Man, that was messed up.”)
Dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. and is open to the public. Admission is $150 for JBF members and $175 for non-members. Call 353-2828 for reservations.