Bobby Flay is no stranger to the James Beard Foundation. The American chef, restaurateur and media personality received the James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year Award in 1993, was inducted into the Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America in 2007 and co-hosted the James Beard Awards in 2008.
This past Saturday, Flay was able to add another James Beard award to his resume: honoree at Chefs & Champagne, the foundation’s annual summer tasting party at the Wolffer Estate Vineyard in the Hamptons. Flay’s award puts him in the company of previous winners Julia Child, Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse and more.
During the evening, Flay was able to kick back and enjoy the culinary treats being prepared by roughly 38 very talented chefs. The tasting included a Lemon Verbena–Infused Watermelon, Citrus, and Shrimp Salad with Bacon Popcorn by Pecko Zantilaveevan; a Homemade Ricotta Crostini with Heirloom Tomatoes, Flying Pigs Farm Bacon, and Ancho Chile Salt by Alex Guarnaschelli; and a Chipotle Gazpacho with Grilled Shrimp with Mango-Filled Chile Doughnut Holes by Tom Fraker and Marco Zapien.
Rufino Rengifo was on hand representing Celebrity Cruises, dishing up Za’atar-Grilled Lamb Chops with Tabbouleh and Greek Yogurt. As Celebrity’s Corporate Executive Chef, Rengifo oversees the hiring, training and development of the culinary team fleetwide, as well as the supervision of onboard culinary operations. His motto may seem simple, but it is beyond ambitious as it incorporates the emotional ingredient, “Dining should be a journey of pleasure that one has never witnessed before.” This ideal has allowed Celebrity Cruises to be the first cruise line to present dinner at the prestigious James Beard House two years ago fulfilling a longtime dream.
Flay, who just opened his latest restaurant, Gato, in February in Manhattan’s NoLita neighborhood, has said being honored by the James Beard Foundation in this fashion, among so many culinary colleagues, was especially touching for him.
“I think I participated in the very first Chefs & Champagne a couple years ago. I was one of the chefs who had a table at the event,” he told Hamptons.com. “So when they asked if they could honor me, I was honestly honored.”