The Proof Feed

Q&A: JBF Taste America Dinner with Chef Wajda


Taste America brings the James Beard Foundation dinners and programs to rising culinary destinations. This year, Louisville was chosen as one of the ten selected cities to host a benefit dinner for the JBF’s Taste America Scholarship Fund. Held at Ashbourne Farms on October 19th, the Taste America Dinner featured dishes and drinks crafted by Louisville’s top chefs and mixologists, including our own Chef Wajda.

What inspired your dish for Taste America Louisville?

MW: We really wanted to do something special for the event while using local producers & farmers. I was excited to team up with Woodford Reserve and Bourbon Barrel Foods, both really opened up the possibilities to make a unique and delicious dish. We chose to kick off the grand event with a Mosaic Foie Gras Terrine— I love foie gras cold, but always miss that roasted flavor, so we did both.

Louisville was the smallest city included on the 10-stop tour. What does the James Beard Foundation choosing us as one of the 10 host cities for this dinner say about our culinary scene?

MW: It really speaks volumes to the growth of our culinary scene and the bond between farmers and chefs. We have always had amazing agriculture here in in the Commonwealth, and it’s finally being recognized thanks to all the hard work in our community and the influx of tourism.

JBF challenged all of the participating chefs to reduce food waste while making their dish for the dinner. How did you approach this challenge?

MW: We used local ingredients and ensured everything was utilized for the dish. I really appreciate our farmers/makers and all of the hard work they put in, so the last thing I want to do is offend them by wasting their product.

What was it like collaborating with other Louisville chefs on the dinner?

MW: It was amazing. We have a great group of culinary minds in Louisville and we don’t get to collaborate enough. The more events like this that we can do together will strengthen the culinary culture of our city as a whole.

What was your favorite moment from the dinner?

MW: My favorite moment was sending the final entrées out it was really a moment of pride for this city and watching it grow. Being surrounded by some of the city’s best chefs & having the energy of Steven Satterfield (visiting JBF Award Winner) in the kitchen created a special moment for all of us. We might have had more fun in the kitchen than the guests had in the dining room!