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James Beard House

You won't find an ad in the dining out section of a newspaper or a listing under restaurants in the yellow pages for the James Beard Foundation. Nevertheless, the kitchen of this Federal-style townhouse in New York City's Greenwich Village is where the stars of American cooking preside almost every evening. You could eat at the former home of James Beard, dean of American gastronomy, night after night (usually midweek) and year after year, sampling a completely different menu each time. It began in 1985 when Wolfgang Puck prepared the first "Great American Chefs Dinner" as a fundraiser to turn the former residence into a center for foodies and food professionals. In the years that followed the best-known chefs in the States—Debra Ponzet, Jimmy Schmidt, Alice Waters, Jean-Louis Palladin, Lydia Shire and Daniel Boulard—beat a path to the brick building to work their magic.

If you join the James Beard Foundation ($125 yearly for New Yorkers and $60 for out-of-towners), you'll receive the monthly newsletter listing all the events, along with the complete menus, and packed full of information about books, personalities, restaurants, workshops and wine. You'll also get a $20 to $25 dinner discount and other benefits. A typical dinner for 60 guests begins about 7 p.m. with drinks and the visiting chef's signature hors d'oeuvres. Meals are priced from $55 to $125 including wine, tax and gratuity. You need not become a member to eat at The Beard House. For people who find themselves in New York City without a dining companion, there's no better way to enjoy a five-course meal in the company of interested and interesting people than to join a table at the Beard House.

For membership information, contact the James Beard Foundation, 167 W. 12th Street, New York, NY 10011. Tel. 212-675-4984. Reservations must be prepaid by credit card. Tel. 212-627-2308. www.jamesbeard.org

Fall 1994