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Randy Allen

Mulvaney’s B&L invited to cook at prestigious James Beard House

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014 - 1:13 pm

The Big Apple will soon get a taste of Sacramento. Mulvaney’s B&L, the midtown restaurant and figurehead of the local farm-to-fork movement, has been invited to cook a Sacramento-centric menu at New York City’s James Beard House on March 14.

An invite to cook at this Greenwich Village townhouse is considered one of the food world’s great honors. Its associated James Beard Foundation oversees the annual James Beard Awards, which are akin to the restaurant industry’s Academy Awards.

That’s to say not just anyone can take over the James Beard House’s kitchen. A restaurant has to be invited to cook for its 80 esteemed guests, which include members of the James Beard Foundation plus movers-and-shakers from the food industry.

It’s a rare honor bestowed on a regional restaurant. Taste Restaurant of Plymouth was invited to cook at James Beard House in 2012. The previous example came two decades before that. Sacramento chefs David SooHoo and Elaine Corn - with pastry chef Patricia Murakami, now of Ambrosia - cooked at James Beard House in 1993.

Mulvaney’s B&L landed on the organization’s radar after chef/proprietor Patrick Mulvaney expressed interest in attending James Beard’s “Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change,” a think tank for advocacy minded chefs with discussion on hot topics related to food policy. Mulvaney, however, was not able to attend due to his participation in Sacramento’s inaugural “Farm-to-Fork Week.”

Mulvaney (pictured above with wife Bobbin) received the official invite in January.

“We’re pretty excited,” said Mulvaney. “We live in the the richest agricultural region in the world, and we’re inviting people in New York to come and enjoy some Sacramento hospitality.”

Mulvaney will fly to New York City with 10 members of his staff, where they will prepare a one-night only menu titled “A Promise of Spring: Savoring Sacramento.” An early draft of the menu includes Sacramento area sturgeon from Passmore Ranch, lamb from Dixon, the region’s first fava beans, plus local beers offered to diners following the meal.

“You can have a beer with us in the kitchen while we’re cleaning up,” said Mulvaney. “We’ll crack open the Track 7s, the Ruhstallers the Knee Deeps.”

Cooking at James Beard House is also a pricy proposition. Participating chefs are rqeuired to provide all their own ingredients plus travel expenses and lodging for staff. Mulvaney wouldn’t say how much this excursion would cost, but considering a round-trip ticket from Sacramento to New York City costs about $500 on the low end, the total costs could easily top more than $10,000.

Mulvaney is providing a stipend for his employees to make the trip. He’s also getting a break from local farmers who are donating ingredients. Some of the local purveyors expected to be featured on the menu include Watanabe Farms, Full Belly Farm and Del Rio Botanical.

“It’s not about the money,” said Mulvaney. “When I told the chefs in the kitchen that James Beard House invited us to come, they said, ‘Yes! We’re on.’ When you see the light in their eyes, and they’re working in a place they’re proud of, all the other stuff falls into place.”


* Taste Restaurant invited to cook at James Beard House in NY

Read more articles by Chris Macias

About Appetizers

Chris Macias has served as The Sacramento Bee's Food & Wine writer since 2008. His writing adventures have ranged from the kitchen at French Laundry to helping pick 10 tons of zinfandel grapes with migrant farm workers in Lodi. Chris also judges regularly at food, wine and cocktail competitions around Northern California. His profile of a former gangbanger-turned-pastry-chef was included in Da Capo's "Best Food Writing 2012."

Read his Wine Buzz columns here
(916) 321-1253
Twitter: @chris_macias

Allen Pierleoni writes about casual lunchtime restaurants in The Sacramento Bee's weekly "Counter Culture" column. He covers a broad range of topics, including food, travel, books and authors. In addition to writing the weekly column "Between the Lines," he oversees the Sacramento Bee Book Club, in which well-known authors give free presentations to the public.

Read his Counter Culture reviews here
(916) 321-1128
Twitter: @apierleonisacbe

Blair Anthony Robertson is The Sacramento Bee's food critic.

Read his restaurant reviews here
(916) 321-1099
Twitter: @Blarob

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