Whether you’re part of the kitchen staff or a simply a foodie, James Beard dinners are a bucket-list experience. For the chef it’s an honor to be invited even once.
Russet‘s Andrew Wood has cooked at Beard an astonishing six times. Although tonight’s event in Greenwich Village, a Sardinian Lamb Feast, will be Andrew and Kristin Wood’s second time officially hosting a James Beard event.
Wood started prepping the lamb midday Tuesday, setting up a Sardinian style roast for his 65-pound Wyebrook Farms lamb.
What exactly is a Sardinian style lamb roast, you may ask?
Well, it includes a Caja China and lots and lots of milk crates.
For those not familiar with the Caja China, it’s a wooden box on wheels, lined with metal. You put the fire in the bottom, you put the meat on a grate across the top and roast until amazing. It’s all very technical. Though this is not the quite traditional Sardinian way.
Andrew Wood strung his lamb up, using the milk crates to suspended it over the mesquite and applewood flames, in what one could interpret as a flaying from some sort of Game of Thrones inspired dinner. But apparently, that’s the way Sardinians do it, Wood says.
“In Sardinia they stick metal crosses into the ground and build the fire around,” he said. “It’s a very festive way to cook and serve lamb. And a nice way to usher in spring.”
Indeed. The technique is impressive and sure to yield a delicious dinner for those who purchased tickets.
As for the rest of us, we can take a peek into the kitchen through the James Beard Foundation Kitchen Cam, a technological innovation launched back in March 2014. The livestream three-angle camera feed “captures the action and atmosphere” happening in the Beard Kitchen 200 nights a year.
The three separate cameras offer a full view of the kitchen, a stovetop view, and the counter where the dishes are prepped and plated.
During tonight’s dinner the Woods will be joined in the kitchen by choice alumni; Chef Matt Broeze of Wyebrook Farm, Chef Luchio Palazzo of Loco Pez, and Omar Pate, a former line cook of Woods. And don’t not forget the littlest helpers in Philly dining, Andrew and Kristin’s sons, Gus, 8, and Leo, 7-months.
It’s actually Gus’ second Beard appearance and, “He’s got surprisingly good knife skills,” Wood reports.
Tickets are no longer available but Wood is planning a replicate Beard dinner sometime in mid-March during their 4-course Sunday supper.