Beginning at 3 p.m. on Friday, March 2, a team from The Red Lion Inn and Berkshire Farm & Table streamed live, behind-the-scenes coverage of Berkshire chefs in the James Beard kitchen. Berkshire Farm & Table’s Facebook page and Twitter feed provided a backstage pass to prep, plating and chef shenanigans throughout the evening.
A short welcome from our host chef Brian Alberg:
For video highlights of the evening, check out the video below courtesy of Brent Wasser of the Sustainable Food and Agriculture Program at Williams College.
More details which led up to the dinner can be found below.
Dinner Highlights Culinary Culture of the Berkshires
On Friday, March 2, theÂ James Beard Foundation will present â€œPreserving the Berkshire Harvest,â€ an evening showcasing the culinary talents and farm-to-table efforts of several of the most innovative chefs of the Berkshires. The foods prepared will have been preserved using time-honored preserving and curing methods with foods raised and harvested in the Berkshire region.
Chefs Demonstrating Commitment to Extending the Fall Harvest
The Berkshire region boasts a culinary movement characterized by a group of sophisticated chefs whose culinary styles are informed by the ever-changing bounty of New Englandâ€™s seasons and the spirit of collaboration that pervades this close-knit group of farmers, producers and chefs.
There is a distinctive body of work being produced by Berkshire chefs through the crafts of charcuterie and butchery in addition to the preservation of fruits and vegetables. Many of the chefs participating in the March James Beard Dinner butcher whole animals raised on local sustainable farms and smoke hams, cure meats and prepare sausages, salami and other charcuterie as part of their culinary practice dedicated to the local food movement. The dinner on March 2 will feature a wide range of cured, dried and pickled meats including lardo, pickled pigâ€™s feet, porchetta de testa, hickory-smoked jowl, lambâ€™cetta and crispy pig ear.
The unique culinary culture of the Berkshires has been shaped by an historical farming culture of dairy, orchards and raising animals on pasture — the countyâ€™s biggest â€œcrop,â€ contributing to the year-round sustainability of the regionâ€™s farms. The Berkshires are known for rolling hills and fertile valleys; there are over 66,000 acres of farmland in Berkshire County, Mass.
Chef Brian Alberg
Organized by Brian J. Alberg, Executive Chef and Food & Beverage Director at The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, this is the third event by a group of like-minded Berkshire chefs to present the multifaceted culinary artisanship of the region in a venue with the mission â€œto celebrate, preserve, and nurture Americaâ€™s culinary heritage and diversity.â€ Alberg has been instrumental in galvanizing a Berkshire culinary movement â€“ as a chef supporting local farms, as a farmer raising his own heritage breed pigs (Berkshire, Tamworth and Old Spot) at his Bacon on the Side Farm, as a mentor for youth interested in culinary arts and as President of Berkshire Grownâ€™s Board of Trustees. This dinner marks Albergâ€™s ninth appearance at the Beard House.
According to Alberg, â€œThe food culture of Berkshires has been embracing preservation long before the farm-to-table movement became a national story. Here in New England, maintaining and creating nutritional value, texture and flavor, have been imperative to extending our limited growing season. This dinner celebrates our time-honored tradition of preservation and pays homage to the farmer, producer and grower, as well as to the animal itself.â€
Dinner Showcases Talents of Seven Berkshire Chefs
and Berkshire Farmers and Producers
The Beard House dinner will present the cuisine of seven chefs working in the verdant Berkshire region today. The â€œPreserving The Berkshire Harvestâ€ reception and dinner is a collaboration among a variety of Berkshire chefs, farmers and producers. The participating chefs are: Chef Brian Alberg of The Red Lion Inn (Stockbridge, Mass.); Chef/Owner Lester Blumenthal ofÂ Route 7 Grill (Great Barrington, Mass.); Chef Daniel Hardy of Allium Restaurant + Bar/Mezze Restaurant Group (Great Barrington, Mass.); Chef Nicholas Moulton of Mezze Bistro + Bar/Mezze Restaurant Group (Williamstown, Mass.); Chef/Owner Dan Smith of John Andrews (South Egremont, Mass.);Â Chef/Owner Jeremy Stanton of The Meat Market (Great Barrington, Mass.); Chef Joji Sumi of Mezze Bistro + Bar/Mezze Restaurant Group (Williamstown, Mass.); Red Lion Inn Sommelier Dan Thomas selected the wines that accompany the dinnerâ€™s reception and six courses.
The chefs sourced menu ingredients from many Berkshire region farms and artisans including Bacon on the Side Farm, Ancramdale, NY; Barrington Coffee Roasting Company, Lee, MA;Â Berkshire Blue Cheese, Great Barrington, MA; Berkshire Mountain Bakery, Housatonic, MA; Berkshire Mountain Distillers, Sheffield, MA; Berle Farm, Hoosick, NY;Â Blue Hill Farm, Pocantico Hills, NY; Community Cooperative Farm, Sheffield, MA: East Mountain Farm, Williamstown, MA; Farm Girl Farm, Egremont, MA; Foggy River Farms, Great Barrington, MA; High Lawn Farm, Lee, MA; Hilltop Orchards, Richmond, MA; Howden Farm, Sheffield, MA; Indian Line Farm, South Egremont, MA; Lakeview Orchard, Lanesboro, MA; Mighty Food Farm, Pownal, VT; North Plain Farm, Great Barrington, MA; Peace Valley Farm, Williamstown, MA; Taft Farms, Great Barrington, MA; Wanabea Farm, Manchester, VT; West County Cider, Colrain, MA; and Zehr & Sons Mushroom Farm, Ghent, NY.
Live from New York!
Beginning at 3 p.m. on Friday, March 2, a team from The Red Lion Inn and Berkshire Farm & Table will be streaming live behind-the-scenes coverage of Berkshire chefs in the James Beard kitchen. The live coverage offers fans a backstage pass to this prestigious event. Last yearâ€™s Berkshire dinner â€“ The Whole Berkshire Hog â€“ was the first time live streaming of dinner prep had taken place from the James Beard House. This year, media coverage will include blog posts, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter updates for up-to-the-minute storytelling as it takes place on-site in New York.
Dinner Reservation Details
The evening begins at 7 p.m. with a reception in the Beard Houseâ€™s charming Greenhouse Gallery as guests enjoy an assortment of hors dâ€™oeuvres. A seated tasting menu begins around 8 p.m.
The James Beard House is located at 167 West 12th Street. The price is $130 per person for James Beard Foundation members and $170 per person for the general public. For reservations, please call 212.627.2308 or visit their website for event details.
Photos courtesy of Caroline Alexander of Berkshire Food Journal + Mighty Food Farm
Destination Boasts Powerful Buy Local Movement
Small-town living, and its insular nature, along with a longstanding concern for the environment typical of people who work closely in it, has fostered a culture of sustainability that permeates life in the Berkshires. The regionâ€™s fertile valleys nurture over eighty independently owned farms that provide produce, meat, poultry, charcuterie, artisan cheeses and more. In particular, Brian Albergâ€™s buying practices have a direct impact on the community as he sources a large percentage of The Red Lion Innâ€™s menu ingredients through the Berkshire Grown network of farmers â€“ contributing over $400,000 annually to the local economy. There is no better embodiment of the communityâ€™s commitment to the â€œbuy localâ€ movement than BerkShares, the regionâ€™s legal currency that is only accepted by local businesses (including The Red Lion Inn) â€“ over two million BerkShares have been circulated since the currencyâ€™s introduction in 2006.
About the Chefs
Brian J. Alberg, Executive Chef and Food & Beverage Director,
The Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, MA
ChefÂ Brian Alberg is a native of Copake, NY, in the Berkshire foothills of neighboring Columbia County, where he began his culinary career as an apprentice at the former lâ€™Hostelierre Bressane. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. in 1987, he oversaw the kitchens in a number of high-profile Berkshire area restaurants earlier in his career, first as head chef at the Underhill Inn in Hillsdale, NY, and later at the 1780 Egremont Inn in South Egremont and the Old Inn on the Green in New Marlborough. He left the area in 1993 to become Executive Chef at Dudleyâ€™s Restaurant in Westchester, NY, where he earned a â€œVery Goodâ€ rating from the New York Times and made the first appearance at the James Beard House.Â Alberg went on to work as executive chef and later Director of Food & Beverage at the Old Saybrook Inn & Spa, a AAA Four-Diamond property, where he was honored for the first time at the James Beard Foundation. Alberg then moved into the corporate world with Marriott where he helped open a number of hotels as well as create a Mediterranean Menu with recipes and training information that was distributed to Marriott and Renaissance Hotels across the globe. Alberg began his tenure at The Red Lion Inn in July of 2004. He is a member of the James Beard Foundation and is on the Board of Directors of Berkshire Grown, an organization dedicated to promoting the support of local farming and strengthening the relationships between local farmers and restaurants. He also serves on the board of the Railroad Street Youth Project to provide young people with the opportunity to explore the culinary arts alongside a professional chef. Alberg has appeared on Good Morning America, Chronicle, NECNâ€™s TV Diner with Billy Costa, Albany (NY) News Channel 13 and WGBYâ€™s On the Menu! (Springfield, MA) and in The Boston Globe, Hudson Valley Magazine and Gastronomica. Alberg resides in Kinderhook, NY.
Brian Alberg photo courtesy of Caroline Alexander of Berkshire Food Journal
Lester Blumenthal, Owner/Chef, Route 7 Grill,
Great Barrington, MA
Lester Blumenthal started life in Brooklyn, NY.Â A graduate of Stuyvesant High School and Hamilton College, he learned early on about the beauties of Berkshire County (camp for a 10-12 year old has lasting effects). A self proclaimed â€œfoodieâ€ and commercial design industry entrepreneur and executive, he decided to trade in his real job for a chance to root himself into the local community and work with local farmers and suppliers. A new restaurant is born — Route 7 Grill — with a true spirit of local.Â â€œIâ€™ve lived in the Berkshires for 12 years and have always hankered for a casual, accessible restaurant and bar with great food that takes advantage of the local bounty â€“ unbeatable produce and lovingly raised livestock and poultry. Iâ€™m delighted that weâ€™ve been able to put together a committed, experienced team to make it happen.â€
Chef Daniel Hardy, Allium Restaurant + Bar/
Mezze Restaurant Group, Great Barrington, MA
Daniel Hardy is an accomplished chef with more than 17 years of experience in the culinary arts. Having moved from Montana to the east coast to lead the Mezze Catering kitchen in 2010, Hardy is now heading up the Allium Restaurant kitchen and working hand in hand with Mezze Restaurant Group. Dan received his culinary arts degree from Western Culinary Institute in Portland, OR, in 1995. He began his career at Signal Mountain Lodge in Wyoming, managing two seasonal restaurants, and then moved on to become executive chef at The Old Yellowstone Garage in Jackson, WY. In this position, Hardy developed a creative menu for the northern Italian restaurant, which utilized only the highest-quality ingredients. After several years working in the â€˜garageâ€™, Hardy moved to Seattle as a key member of the start-up team for Volterra, an Italian concept restaurant, which earned â€œBest New Restaurantâ€ from Seattle Weekly in 2005. After opening Volterra, Hardy relocated to Livingston, MT, where he started his own company, Second Street Catering, and ran the business as chief financial officer, manager and executive chef. His recipes have been published in cookbooks and magazines, and many restaurants where he worked received national recognition during his tenure. Food & Wine, Wine Spectator, Skiing Magazine and Sunset Magazine have all recognized Hardyâ€™s success while he was chef at The Old Yellowstone Garage. Hardy believes in presenting honest food with simple elegance. His style is refreshing and sincere, incorporating seasonal ingredients with exciting flavors. His move to the Berkshires is a true testament to his commitment to farm to table and the growing mission of Mezze Restaurant Group.
Daniel Hardy photo courtesy of Jay Cavallaro
Nicholas Moulton, Sous Chef, Mezze Bistro + Bar/
Mezze Restaurant Group, Williamstown, MA
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, Nicholas Moulton is an accomplished sous chef from North Adams, MA. Working closely with Mezze Bistroâ€™s head chef Joji Sumi, Moulton executes a developing menu highlighting local foods from farms in the Berkshire region. He is heavily exposed to independent growers and producers, assisting in the harvesting and butchering of ingredients for the restaurantâ€™s menu. Moulton is responsible for daily mise en place, production and assistance with weekly menu changes of this highly successful farm-to-table restaurant, part of the Mezze Restaurant Group. Prior to his position at Mezze Bistro + Bar in Williamstown, MA, Moulton worked as sous chef at The Orchards Hotel in Williamstown. In this role, he was responsible for the supervision of staff over three meal periods daily and assisted the chef in maintaining the restaurantâ€™s AAA Four-Diamond Award. Moulton has also held stages and apprenticeships at the renowned restaurants Blantyre (Relais & Chateaux), L’Espalier, Wheatleigh and Craigie on Main. He believes in supporting sustainable agriculture and holds a strong commitment to the farm-to-table movement and the growing mission of Mezze Restaurant Group.
Daniel Hardy photo courtesy of Gregory Nesbit
Dan Smith, Chef/Owner, John Andrewâ€™s Restaurant,
South Egremont, MA
Dan Smith was brought up on a family farm in Iowa. His family has been farming for generations. Dan studied agriculture in college, but realized that his passion was not in growing food but in cooking it. His connection to food comes from his experience of fresh food grown on the family farm. Dan’s longstanding connection to fresh, local food is rooted in his childhood, and is the basis of his menu at John Andrews. Dan is committed to buying local, organic, sustainable products. He has been working with local farmers for the last twenty years. He works with area small farmers and producers to develop his menu around their products. He is inspired by the the produce they bring to his kitchen door.Â Dan treats ingredients and employees with respect to create a beautiful dining experience for his customers. Not only does he work with area farmers, he has also created his own garden on the property which supplies produce for the restaurant. The commitment to local products and service is evident in the dining experience at John Andrews.
Jeremy Stanton, Chef/Owner, The Meat Market,
Great Barrington, MA
Jeremy Stanton is a kind of food polymath who trained at the CIA and has cheffed in kitchens in the Berkshires, Florida and New York. He started a successful pasta company at 25 and learned the ins and outs of sourcing and butchering heritage breed food animals as a consultant to Stafford Meats in Connecticut. Mr. Stanton currently operates Fire Roasted Catering â€“ renowned for preparing entire meals over an open wood fire â€“ Â including whole animals sourced from local farmers. In August 2012, Mr. Stanton brought his passion for local food to the ultimate level by opening The Meat Market. Central to Mr. Stantonâ€™s culinary practices and his philosophy about food in general, is the importance of raising awareness about locally grown agricultural products. He believes we all need to understand and embrace the contributions to flavor, healthful living and stewardship of the land that follow when we support local farms and farmers. His commitment to opening a retail butcher shop dedicated to locally raised meats speaks both to his personal convictions about the importance of supporting local agriculture and his belief thatÂ the market forces now exits to make such a business economically viable.
Joji Sumi, Chef, Mezze Bistro + Bar/Mezze Restaurant Group,
Chef Joji Sumi is solidly committed to sourcing local ingredients from the surrounding region and partnering with like-minded farms in our community. His â€œfarm to tableâ€ philosophy translates to procuring the best-quality produce, meats, cheeses and other local foods to create a superior product for Mezze Bistro guests. Sumi has daily dialog with many farmers and makes a concerted effort to bring his kitchen staff to the farms to help with seasonal harvests and participate in the butchering of the food that is on his changing menus. Sumi came to Mezze Bistro + Bar in October 2007 after working as head baker and pastry chef for Midland Country Club in Michigan. His 15-plus years of culinary experience include positions ranging from line cook and sous chef to head chef. Over the past few years, the Japanese-American chef has developed the Mezze Bistro + Bar menu to reflect his background, blending classic French technique with the influences of his Asian heritage. Sumi is increasingly inspired by the availability of fresh seasonal ingredients in the Berkshire region. The changing of the seasons provides him with a natural backdrop for an interesting and ever-evolving menu at Mezze Bistro + Bar.
Daniel Thomas, Sommelier, The Red Lion Inn,
Sommelier Daniel Thomas brings extensive knowledge of oenology to The Red Lion Inn dining experience. Thomas completed the first level of the Court of Master Sommeliers and is currently studying and tasting in preparation for the next level of testing. He furthers his studies by participating in meetings of a tasting group of industry professionals as well as tasting over 500 wines each year through his own research and travels. Inspired by the advancements in food and wine over the last decade, Thomas most enjoys introducing guests to new wines, beers and cocktails along with unexpected combinations. On staff since February 2007, Thomas expanded the Innâ€™s wine list to include over 400 wines with a focus on artisan producers from around the world. The Red Lion Inn was awarded the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for the twelfth consecutive year in 2010.
The Red Lion Inn
A charter member of Historic Hotels of America and winner of the Wine Spectator award for excellence, The Red Lion Inn (c. 1773) has been providing food and lodging to guests for over two centuries. It offers 108 antique-filled rooms and suites, formal and casual dining, a gift shop, pub with nightly entertainment and a full range of amenities including free WiFi, a year-round heated outdoor pool and in-room massage therapy. The Inn is recommended by National Geographic Traveler, The New York Times and The Boston Globe and has won awards and been noted for its commitment to sustainability. For more information, contact 413-298-5545, or visit redlioninn.com.
James Beard Foundation
The James Beard Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to celebrating, preserving and nurturing Americaâ€™s culinary heritage and diversity. The late James Beard was a champion of American cuisine who helped educate and mentor generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts. Today, the James Beard Foundation continues in the same spirit by providing scholarships, honoring industry professionals, offering the public the opportunity to enjoy the talents of emerging and established chefs, winemakers, cookbook authors and purveyors, and hosting conferences, readings and classes to engage people with the fascinating world of food. For more information about programs and membership, visit jamesbeard.org.
Berkshire Farm & Table
Berkshire Farm & Table is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to cultivate regional economic development through the advancement of food culture in the Berkshires. Through building relationships, producing events and fostering dialogue, they bring the unique stories and expertise of Berkshiresâ€™ culinary artisans, farming values and agrotourism experiences to the forefront of the national food movement via new economic modeling. For more information, visit berkshirefarmandtable.org.
For media inquiries, please contact Stephanie Gravelese, Manager of Marketing & Communications at The Red Lion Inn. 413.298.1629 | firstname.lastname@example.org