The Iconoclast Dinner At The James Beard House: Cooking, Eating + Drinking for a Great Cause!

I was lucky enough to attend the VIP reception segment of the recent Iconoclast Dinner to benefit Spelman College and I got both an eyeful and a mouthful. The exclusive reception, dinner and afterparty might have cost a whopping $2K but every penny went to one of the most worthy causes on earth–giving advanced education to those who might not be able to afford it. The specific scholarship fund was The Dr. Lezli Levene Harvell Scholarship For International Students At Spelman College, which benefits aspiring college students in Jamaica and sub-Saharan African countries.

I spent time in the courtyard of the lovely and legendary Beard House testing specialty drinks for the evening by a talented British Mixologist known as “Mister Cocktail” including a concoction of pineapple juice, gin and crushed red pepper called The Aquarius that almost blew my earrings off! “Mister Cocktail” is actually an award-winning mixologist Colin Asare-Appiah who is very in demand in The Hamptons this summer and has an endorsement deal with Bacardi. The sommelier for the evening was Luvo Ntezo of South Africa, head sommelier at One&Only.

While out in the James Beard House garden, I got to sample the wonderful dessert of the evening called Lemon Verrine, Lemon Sherbet and Camelized Feuille by the mega-talented Graham Hornigold of Hakkasan in London. It was something like if you crossed lemon meringue pie with trifle and then added lemon sorbet and assorted candied fruits and nuts. In two words, it was “simply divine.”

The fifty guests who got to stay for the three-hour dinner were treated to such items as Braised Goat created by Joe “JJ” Johnson from The Cecil & Minton’s in Harlem, Poached Octopus by Nina Compton from Compere Lapin in New Orleans, Lobster Ceviche With Jalapeno Gazpacho by Tre Wilcox from Tre Concepts in Dallas, Steamed Black Bass with Shaved Radish by Preston Clark of Lure Fishbar in NYC and a Duck Duo with Sweet Potato Galette by Nyesha Arrington from the New Restaurant Concept in Venice, CA.

The guests were then gifted a large canvas Iconoclast Dinner logo totes full of goodies including Godiva chocolates and assorted gourmet chips, snacks and drinks and then proceeded to the afterparty at  the beautiful Alvin Ailey Dance Company. There was a silent auction sponsored by and there were plenty of gaming tables. The glamorous afterparty included a lot of playful and sexy dancing, the legendary Cocktail Experience by Junior “The Liquid Chef” Merino and even a photo booth where pics could be shared on social media.

It was indeed a gourmandizing and “cocktailing” night to remember that did a tremendous amount of good for education!

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