Chef Todd Fisher Cooks Up Duda Farm Fresh Foods at The James Beard House
CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA, CA - Gathering around a table, enjoying a fantastic meal and good conversation, is one of my favorite pastimes. Food as sustenance is great, but as a vehicle for storytelling, innovation, and creativity—its potential is immeasurable. One of those artists creating wonder through food is Chef Todd Fisher, who recently set up shop in The James Beard House to cook the meal of a lifetime.
“Cooking at the James Beard House has truly been a dream of mine since I first worked in fine dining restaurants. I remember buying my first cookbook about sauces to learn more and increase my kitchen IQ,” Chef Todd tells me. “The book I bought had a gold seal on it for an award of excellence from the James Beard Foundation (JBF). And, although I didn’t know exactly who or what the JBF was, that gold seal resonated with me and would be an inspiration for what has been my entire career.”
Bringing West Coast flavor to the East Coast dinner table, Chef Todd Fisher, Founder VP of Culinary Operations for Seventh & Dolores Steakhouse in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, cultivated a masterpiece of a menu with the help of Chef de Cuisine Jeremiah Tydeman, Chef Danny Leach, and Pastry Chef Adam Wulf, who calls Seventh & Dolores home as well. The catalyst for cooking at the JBH came from a strong desire of Chef Todd’s: to receive a James Beard Nomination for Seventh & Dolores. As Chef Todd’s team researched the possibility of being recognized, the invitation to cook at the house was presented.
“The greatest highlight was standing in the middle of the kitchen hoisting a glass of sparkling wine in celebration of the exceptionally-executed dinner,” Chef Todd says. “Simply walking into the kitchen and standing on the culinary hallowed ground was inspiring, then to stand there knowing how many chefs had stood there before was incredible.”
Now, you are probably wondering what the menu was comprised of and, believe me, that was my first question as well. From the Niman Ranch Steak Tartare with Beef Tendon and Truffles to Kampachi with Duda Farms Celery, Capers, Chervil, Meyer Lemon, Pink Peppercorns, and Fried Anchovy, and a dish with Big Sur Salt and Cultured Butter-Roasted Red Abalone, the dinner seemed flavorful and flawless. To see the full menu, click here.
“The multi-course menu was designed around my personality and the team that made the trip to New York. The goal was to showcase the uniqueness of Seventh & Dolores and Folktale Winery & Vineyards which brought wine pairings to the table. I created a menu that told the story of the West Coast and the region we live in,” Chef Todd reflects. “It was also important to me to showcase the long-standing relationships I have with my partners like Duda Farm Fresh Foods and Niman Ranch.”
As for produce, Chef Todd envisioned fresh produce’s role in the dinner the same way he does every dinner.
“Being a chef in California, and in Monterey County especially, we have the best produce. So my philosophy of incorporating fresh produce was exactly the same. Use the best, serve it simply, and let it shine!” he tells me. “This event was a dream come true, a dream that took a tremendous amount of dedication to my trade, a lot of hard work, long hours, and a ton of fun and experiences that I wouldn’t change. The experience has afforded me two very significant lessons. One, you can’t do it alone, it took a team to make this dream a reality, and I am fortunate to have a great team around me. Second, the real work has only just begun, the bar has been raised, the goal of a James Beard Nomination and award has not been achieved, so we will continue to strive for excellence and be better today than we were yesterday and better still tomorrow."
So, if that didn’t whet you palate, I can’t imagine what could! Want to taste it yourself? Chef Todd will be recreating the dinner at his Seventh & Dolores restaurant on April 4th. Tickets are $155 plus tax and gratuity. Capacity is only 80 seats. Passed Canapes will be at 6:00-6:45 PM, and then guests will be escorted through the kitchen to their tables with dinner at 7:00 p.m.
Congrats, Chef Todd, on this amazing achievement and the exciting road ahead that we are all excited to follow you down!