Respect the Beard – Interview with Andy and Mike and the Friends of Beard Dinner



Sunday night sees a huge event in Memphis. The Friends of James Beard are hosting a dinner at Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, home of Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman, who were recently named as Food & Wine’s best new chefs. Pretty awesome how this is all coming together. Anyway here are the details:

Friends of Beard dinners are held around the country and modeled after dinners at the eponymous Beard House.  These special evenings bring together talented chefs to collaborate in a single kitchen for a multi-course menu.

On Sunday, Chefs Ticer and Hudman will host five up-and-coming guest chefs from various regions for the 7-course meal: David Posey of Blackbird in Chicago, IL, Jason Fox of Commonwealth in San Francisco, CA, Jason Stanhope of Fig in Charleston, SC, Jeff McInnis of Yardbird in Miami Beach, FL and Stephanie Prida of Manresa in Los Gatos, CA.

The theme of the evening is “Know Your Food, Know Your Roots.”  Each chef will be encouraged to use products rooted in their respective regions, and to create a dish that symbolizes their “roots” – whether their hometown, their present city, their ancestry or childhood inspirations.

All proceeds from the event will go to benefit the James Beard Foundation, a not-for-profit culinary organization whose mission is to celebrate, nurture and preserve America’s diverse culinary heritage and future.  Proceeds from Friends of Beard benefit dinners are divided equally between the Foundation’s scholarship program and general operation.

Tickets are limited and can be purchased by contacting Brittney Andres, Marketing and Events Manager, via email (

Know Your Food, Know Your Roots
Friends of James Beard Benefit
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen
712 W. Brookhaven Circle, Memphis, TN 38117
5:30 pm Cocktails, 6:00 pm 7-Course Meal
General Public $300, JBF Members $250
7-courses including beverage pairings (tax and tip included)

This is a pretty spectacular lineup of chefs that represent some of the best restaurants around. It should be a legendary dinner.

I passed a few interview questions to Andy and Mike, and here’s what they said about this event.

Eat Local Memphis: What’s it mean to have these great chefs sharing the kitchen with you?

Andy: “We could not be more excited about the chefs coming to town for our dinner.  We think these guys are the up-and-comers, that they are going to be household names in the near future.”

Michael: “Really the whole idea was this ‘new guard’ of young chefs doing things that got us thinking.  We really just brought in people we really wanted to cook with.  It’s crazy to see what comes out of some of these dinners – the collaboration inspires everybody.  And you make friends that you keep in touch with for years, real camaraderie that comes from having the same goal of perfection and working the same insane hours.  We can’t wait for April 14.  It will be our first time meeting some of them, and we’re already inspired by the conversations we’ve had over email and phone.”

Eat Local Memphis: As James Beard nominees, can you share how important the Beard House is to American cuisine?

A&M: “It’s everything.  The James Beard Awards are every cook and chef’s ultimate goal.  Those awards really recognize the folks in our industry that have been working so hard for so long to elevate what we do.  The Beard House is where the magic happens. It’s is the home of American cooking.  It’s where up-and-coming chefs like ourselves can go and cook for a wider audience.  It’s such an experience for a chef to cook there – there’s nothing like it.  It’s like the Olympics for us.

Eat Local Memphis: What does it mean for Memphis to have this event and to share out style with these great chefs from more-established food cities?

Andy: “One of the main reasons we wanted to host this dinner was to give Memphians a chance to eat the food that these guys are cooking; no one will pretend Memphis has the food scene of Chicago, but we can eat a meal that Chicagoans would go nuts for here in our hometown for a night.  While we’re a much smaller city, we do have a style here. At our restaurants we practice southern cooking with Italian roots; we’re looking forward to showing other dedicated chefs what this means to us.”

Eat Local Memphis: Where will you take them to eat to show off Memphis?

Michael: “We sort of have a list of our favorite spots in Memphis. It’s not what some people might expect.  We love Jerry’s Sno Cone, and Bryants Breakfast.  Of course we’ll make a Muddy’s run, and show them Gus’s Fried Chicken. Cozy Corner is a must.  We’ll get lunch at Las Tortugas.  Some are coming in on Friday, so we’re looking forward to cooking for them at AMIK.”

Eat Local Memphis: Thanks so much!

So, short version. If you can, you should go. Sounds incredible.


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