Atlanta Chefs Headed to NYC's Beard House

An invite to cook at The James Beard House (JBH) is a dream come true in the culinary world. Two of Atlanta’s finest accepted the invitation and printed their menus. Saltyard’s Nick Leahy and Canoe’s Matt Basford head to James Beard’s former home in New York City next week to showcase both their acclaimed restaurants and their international upbringing.

A little backstory on where they will cook. After his death in 1985, food writer James Beard’s former home opened as a center for culinary arts. After those first monthly dinners began in 1987, in order to nurture and honor them, chefs have been invited to perform at the house for intimate white tablecloth dining (seating is limited to 74 guests).

On Tuesday, August 15 Leahy and Basford, transporting homegrown Georgia ingredients, will present a round of appetizers, four courses, desserts, and pairings to guests in the Greenwich dining room.

Leahy, chef/owner of Buckhead’s Saltyard was born in Bermuda and raised in England by his French mother. His small plates know no boundaries, reflecting the global flavors and techniques learned traveling the world. Basford is a native of Australia and worked his way from line cook to sous, executive sous, chef de cuisine, and eventually executive chef at Canoe, a long term and consistent player in the Atlanta dining scene.

Both work with the seasons, sourcing local, high quality ingredients. Saltyard is an atmosphere that is modern with comfy sensibilities. Canoe sits rustic yet elegant on the banks of the Chattahoochee.

This cooking duality presents a sort of Town and Country theme for guests at JBH, and just a few days ago they presented the menu to media and friends. After a flawless evening of service at Saltyard, we know that ticketholders can expect to leave full from a pleasurable tasting menu that will leave them thinking, “Let’s go to Atlanta to eat!”

The menu:

Round of appetizers

  • Tiny Hemingway daiquiris with white rum, grapefruit juice, lime juice and Maraschino liqueur.
  • Australian octopus skewers - Bassford’s love of Asian flavors and skillful technique creates a moist and tenderized hors d’oeuvres on a stick.
  • Pickled Georgia shrimp with she-crab aioli topped with roe -  bright and fresh, almost ceviche-like.
  • Grassfed beef pies - served piping hot with layers of flaky crust. Beet ketchup lends a vibrant earthiness to the savory interior.
  • Stuffed Georgia figs with a little blue cheese and pine nut brittle - so now, so of the moment, savory with contrasting textures.

1st Course

Fresh lump crab, melon, shallot, garlic. This was an exhilarating jumble of tastes and sensations: cool, soft, sweet, bright with crunchy bits of shallots and heat from kilian peppers.

2nd Course

Springer Mountain Farms chicken liver ravioli. Creamy filled bundles of fresh pasta came with a light glaze of fondue made from local Caly Road Creamery’s Waypoint, a creamy, French-style Camembert.


3rd Course

Roasted Moore Farms goat polenta with greens and sorghum. Here, different preparations of goat (leg, loin, patty wrapped in caul fat) arrived in cast iron pans with a tender polenta cake, greens with their tangy potlikker and sweet sorghum.

4th Course

Grilled kangaroo loin. Kangaroo is a lean meat with very little fat. This dish came out tender with subtle smoke from the grill over aligote-style potatoes creamed with black garlic and maitake mushrooms.


Canoe style Tim Tam. Basford's version of this Australian favorite was serves as a sliver of intense chocolate and light chocolate cream.


Two tiny and perfect panna cottas nestled with a roasted fig and fresh fig and peach preserves topped with crunch bits of nutty faro delighted.

Housemade Limoncello from chef Leahy dazzled us, as the menu did.

If you’re in New York: reservations for the dinner at The James Beard House on August 15: (212)627-2308

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