Chef Doug Ruley, vice president of culinary operations for Rehoboth Beach-based SoDel Concepts, will cook for a record-breaking fifth time at the James Beard House on Dec. 13 in New York, the former home of the famous cookbook author and teacher and now the headquarters of the James Beard Foundation.
“Being invited to cook for guests at the James Beard House is an honor,” said Scott Kammerer, president of SoDel Concepts, which has 12 coastal Delaware restaurants. “Chefs from all over the nation request invitations. Being asked back five times is unprecedented. It’s a testament to Doug’s talent and reputation.”
The dinner, Coastal Seafood Holiday: Farmer Meets Fisherman, sold out within weeks of its posting on the website. “Doug’s menus are so appealing, and he’s adept at creating amazing dishes in unfamiliar kitchens,” Kammerer said.
The small James Beard kitchen often presents a challenge for chefs.
Delmarva-inspired dishes will include a selection of passed appetizers such as Chincoteague clams with mint, parsley, serrano chile, walnuts and tangerine, and Dewey Beach Selects oysters with Korean hot sauce, maple mayo and sesame. Guests will also get a taste of Carolina fluke, smoked Virginia bluefish and Choptank rockfish.
While making his seafood choices, Ruley respected the James Beard Foundation’s Smart Catch initiative, which supports sustainable seafood and avoids species deemed overfished by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.
Ruley views the trip to New York as a unique experience for his chefs. “Bringing my team to New York is the real reason why these invitations are so meaningful to me,” he said. “It gives us a chance to work together in an unusual environment for the New York guests.”
Ruley is a leader who often puts his team first, Kammerer said. This year, the participating SoDel Concepts employees include corporate chefs Ronnie Burkle and Maurice Catlett; executive chefs Ryan Cunningham of The Clubhouse at Baywood and Maggie Cellitto of Matt’s Fish Camp in Bethany Beach; and Dru Tevis, corporate pastry chef.
Chad McMaster, general manager of Lupo Italian Kitchen and an introductory sommelier, will direct the wine service. Mike Zygmonski, director of SoDel Concepts’ wine program, selected the wines. In addition to the wines, the dinner will feature beers from Thompson Island Brewing Company, SoDel Concepts’ newest restaurants.
“I am beyond proud of Doug and our culinary team,” Kammerer said.
For information about SoDel Concepts, visit sodelconcepts.com.