A Delta Dinner in New York

The James Beard House puts on a dinner that heralds yet another example of the Delta cuisine getting its due

Katherine Owen
James Beard sitting in Kitchen
Elizabeth Wynn

On Saturday, October 1, displaced Southerners and Southern food fans alike can get a taste of the Mississippi Delta at the James Beard House in New York City. If we weren’t located so close to Mississippi itself, we’d be really worried about missing out on this standout event, which celebrates an often-overlooked culinary niche of the South. The region, flanked by two rivers—the Yazoo and the Mississippi—is known for its hot tamales, catfish, and a cuisine flavored by nutrient-rich land and historic cultural influences. And although frequently passed over for shinier destinations, it’s not lacking in road trip options. The Delta, spanning from Memphis, TN down just past Vicksburg, MS, is a region spotted with tiny, tasty cities and roadside pit-stops.

Beard House Dining Room
Fortunato M. Ramin

As only appropriate, the dinner will call on chefs from across the area, like Cole Ellis of Delta Meat Market in Cleveland, MS; Hugh Balthrop of Sweet Magnolia Gelato Co. in Clarksdale, MS; and Phillip Ashley Rix of Phillip Ashley Chocolates in Memphis, TN. The all-star lineup will transport attendees to the Delta with a varied dinner of dishes like Gulf shrimp boscaiola with house-cured pancetta, caramelized onion–porcini pan sauce, and fresh pasta, or juniper and muscadine–brined venison backstrap with wild rice spoonbread and dandelion gratin. And it’s not over at dinner—dessert comes in the form of creative sorbets (like melon sorbet and jezebel sauce sorbet with smoked ham hock crouton) and rich salted caramel–chocolate mousse with dark chocolate bread pudding and German chocolate cake praline. We’re hungry just thinking about it.

James Beard House Menu
Mitzi Morris

Tickets are $135 for JBF members, $175 for the general public. For more information visit jamesbeard.org.