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He’ll Take Manhattan

For Pino Posteraro, pulling off a Vancouver-themed dinner at New York’s famed James Beard House took exhaustive preparation, meticulous planning, and a little help from his friends
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Cioppino cheesecake image
Pino’s signature limoncello cheesecakes with mascarpone lemon sorbetto Geoff Mottram
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For Pino Posteraro, pulling off a Vancouver-themed dinner at New York’s famed James Beard House took exhaustive preparation, meticulous planning, and a little help from his friends

Pino Posteraro is exhausted. He’s just closed his Yaletown restaurant, Cioppino’s, after a gruelling six-day week. Boarding a Cathay Pacific flight to JFK airport in New York just before midnight, he sinks into his business-class seat and pulls the brim of a Lacoste ball cap over his eyes. He’s desperately in need of sleep that doesn’t come. While the other 17 members of his party nod off, he goes over his mental checklist.

Twelve cases containing six different vintages of specifically sourced Antinori wines must clear Customs and arrive in New York, on time and undamaged. The same goes for thousands of dollars’ worth of B.C. sablefish, spot prawns, albacore tuna, and Qualicum Bay scallops. God (and FedEx) willing, 80 of his signature limoncello cheesecakes should be waiting for him in the walk-in cooler of Daniel Boulud’s restaurant on the Upper East Side. The fresh herbs and produce should arrive from Union Square Market just after his plane touches down. Specialty ingredients (oils, vinegars, truffles, piquillo peppers, three types of salt, and four types of olives) sourced from Roland (an American food importer) should also be waiting.

In the airplane’s cargo hold are items too delicate to be trusted to overnight shipping. Meticulously wrapped in gel packs are $1,400 worth of Peace Country lamb racks, 320 handmade ravioli stuffed with beef cheeks, 13 pounds of reduced lamb stock in double-sealed containers, two one-kilogram bags of imported chickpea flour, and Posteraro’s collection of knives. If this trip is to be a success, the timing must be perfect and the organization meticulous. Nobody said cooking dinner at the James Beard House would be easy.

James Beard House is more than a restored four-storey brownstone in Greenwich Village. For North American chefs, it’s Mecca, and cooking dinner there is a once-in-a-lifetime honour. The late James Beard was one of the inventors of modern American cuisine, and since 1986 his former home has hosted the finest chefs, sommeliers, food journalists, and restaurateurs in the world. It’s one of the biggest stages in the industry, under the brightest spotlight. The scrutiny, the pressure to perform, is intense. The only way in is to be invited. 

Posteraro had already cancelled one invitation. In 2007 his cookbook (Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill) caught the attention of Mitchell Davis, the New York City food journalist and vice-president of the James Beard Foundation. Posteraro secured sponsorship from Connecticut’s Foxwood Casinos and accepted the invitation. The Foxwood people agreed to fly him east to appear on one of their celebrity cooking shows as part of a weeklong promotional tour for the cookbook that would conclude at the James Beard House. When Foxwood reneged, Posteraro had to cancel. “Cancelling is unheard of,” he recalls with a rueful smile. “From what I’d heard, if you cancel they’ll never have you back.”

A year later, Davis and Posteraro crossed paths again. In September 2008, when Daniel Boulud was taking over the reins at Lumière, he invited some Vancouver chefs to his Manhattan restaurant Daniel to introduce the cooking of the Pacific Northwest to New York City. Posteraro was one of the chefs Boulud showcased, and Davis was in attendance. Wowed by Posteraro’s lobster medallions, Davis again invited him to prepare an Italian-inspired menu showcasing Vancouver ingredients. D-Day was Thursday, July 2.

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I like the way how they presented all the dishes, very detailed and really looks delicious. Something that you will have a second thought if you will eat it or not.Stewart B

by StewartB on Apr 15 2010 at 2:37 AM

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by Mary Davenport on Nov 9 2009 at 6:29 AM