Chef Ryan Santos of Over-the-Rhine's Please is receiving a unique honor and opportunity on Thursday: He's been invited to cook at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City, a “performance space” for visiting chefs helmed by the James Beard Foundation under its mission to "celebrate, nurture and honor chefs." Only a handful of other local chefs, including Daniel Wright of Senate and Jean Robert de Cavel, have cooked at James Beard.
On Sept. 13, Santos will be preparing and plating a five-course tasting menu accompanied by natural wine pairings. The menu will include passed hors d’oeuvres — collard green salad rolls with parsnips and sesame, Kentucky beef tartare on rugbrød and crispy Kennebec potatoes with Tulip Tree Creamery Tiger Lily cheese and chives — paired with sparkling wine or MadTree's Gin Bourbon Barrel Joon. According to a press release, the rest of the menu will feature: beets with turmeric salsa macha, sumac and cherry wood oil; halibut with stewed white beans, preserved cherries and sherry; Berkshire pork loin with chanterelles and cabbage barigoule; the Cincinnati chili-inspired apple aebleskivers with maple and gjetost cheese; and tasted cedar-rosemary mousse with quince and pumpkin seeds.
The dinner will be streaming live from the JBF Kitchen Cam. The evening begins at 7 p.m. for passed hors d’oeuvres with dinner starting at 7:45 p.m. Follow along with the Please team here.
We recently emailed with Santos before he left for New York to learn more.
CityBeat: What does it mean for a chef to cook at the James Beard House? And what does it mean to you personally?
Ryan Santos: Cooking at the James Beard House is a milestone in any chef’s career, and I’m no exception. It’s always been a dream of mine and it feels incredibly rewarding to very soon check this off my bucket list — but I think it means even more for the city of Cincinnati. Our city is so culturally rich and we are slowly becoming more nationally recognized, but we have to continue to reach out of our city limits to continue the dialogue.
CB: How did you decide on your menu?
RS: We’ve cultivated a sense of what our guests love and what brings them back to the restaurant, and we really wanted to bring that to the audience in New York. Our aebleskivers will be featured this Thursday as well as some of our new staple items like the crispy potatoes with taleggio cheese and green garlic. We will also be pairing each course with select wines provided by Jenny & François, one of the most lauded purveyors and distributors of natural wines in the U.S, and MadTree Brewing Co., whose Gin Bourbon Barrel Joon will be served at the dinner.
CB: What kind of impact do you hope to impart upon the tasting panel — what sort of feeling do you hope they'll walk away with?
RS: I always say that I want people to eat delicious food. That hasn’t changed when creating this menu and experience. I do hope that the guests and media attending will look at what we’re doing and get a better sense of what our Cincinnati food scene is all about. It is continually evolving, growing and innovating.
CB: What and who are you bringing with you?
We have our General Manager Chris O’Hearn and a number of cooks and front of house staff. Our PR Firm, Fallon Thatcher, who helped lead this effort and make all of this a reality will be arranging media visits. This is a huge undertaking has had incredible support from our sponsors Main Street Ventures, Source Cincinnati, The Carl Ann and Ralph V. Haile Foundation, CINCINNATIUSA Convention & Visitors Bureau, Graydon Head, Hickory World Hospitality and MadTree Brewing Co. A lot of respect goes out to our sponsors for seeing the opportunity in supporting us.
CB: What will you be wearing? Like anything special or important to you?
RS: I’ll be wearing a chef jacket and a huge smile.