Twittering a Berkshires Dinner at the James Beard House

Yesterday we noticed that a team of talented chefs were driving down from the Berkshires to put a dinner featuring local resources on at the venerable James Beard House in New York City. On a whim, we offered to semi-live, and from 3000 miles away, share the experience with over 1000 followers in Twitter.

Put together over two hours by cell phone and Facebook, Brian Butterworth – Director of Sales for The Red Lion Inn, arranged for iPhone photography from Bruce Finn, General Manager of The Red Lion Inn. As the main courses were presented to the dining room, Bruce snapped photos and emailed them to We then posted to Flickr and micro-blogged them into Twitter. You can see the micro-blog stream by visiting Twitter and searching the hashtag #berkshirechef.

The James Beard House in NYC is a testament to the vision of American cuisine and one of America’s best known and loved chefs, James Beard. As a former chef, I have a vast admiration not only for James Beard, but for the organization that bears his name. It is a distinct honor to be invited to cook at the James Beard House.

The Berkshire Team, led by Chef Brian Alberg (his seventh event at JBH), was joined by Joseph Carr Wine of Calistoga, California. The culinary crew included:

Chef Brian Alberg The Red Lion Inn/ Stockbridge, MA
Chef Peter Platt The Old Inn on the Green/ New Marlborough, MA
Chef Daire Rooney Brix Wine Bar/ Pittsfield, MA
Chef Joji Sumi Mezze Bistro + Bar/ Williamstown, MA
Chef/Owner Adam Zieminski Cafe Adam/ Great Barrington, MA
Chocolatier Joshua Needleman Chocolate Springs Café/ Lenox, MA
Director Joseph Carr Joseph Carr Wine/ Calistoga, CA

We’ll share more information on the menu in a bit – we wish to describe our experience in providing semi-live, long-distance coverage of the event.

While we feel that this was a successful micro-enterprise, we’ve learned some things that we at would do differently in the future.

  • First, we needed better planning. Finding a mobile camera that could transmit was done at the last minute.
  • A logistical step could have been eliminated by posting the pictures directly into a web-based photo sharing site (Flickr). We experienced a delay of several hours waiting for the pictures to arrive through email.
  • Finally, a much more intriguing story could have occurred with photography of the chef team transporting down to NYC, unloading and preparing the dinner. Action shots of these activities would have engaged a much broader audience in Twitter, especially pictures of the chefs actually preparing the meals. And of course – the chefs, staff and diners eating and drinking! Images of Joseph Carr talking about his wine with the diners, the chefs interacting with serving staff and the after-meal salute would have rounded out a deeper integration of social media and live culinary event at the nation’s top dining room.

We think it would have been extremely intriguing to involve the staff of The James Beard House and the diners present. How much fun would it have been to see tweets from diners “oooh-ing and aaahh-ing” as they munched on the appetizers and courses? How much interest would there have been by fans of Joseph Carr Wines in Twitter-land had they known of this fantastic dinner being given? Would there have been a few hundred Twitter-people suddenly following and expressing jealousy about not being there? Would there be Twitter-people clueing their friends into the online and real-time dialogue about the event? Would this lead to increased interest in not only Joseph Carr Wines, but the Chefs on the Berkshire Team, their establishments and the James Beard House?

This is cutting edge social media for hospitality – involving people in the fun and exciting things we in hospitality do. Sharing our stories and lives with current customers and potential customers on a real-time basis. The days of marketing through a mega-phone in a blanket distribution and static message are waning. Daily engagement is the standard and norm that will be best-practice. What can your restaurant or hotel use social media for?

Berkshire Chefs at The James Beard House Menu

Hors d’Oeuvre

Maple Polenta Cakes with Cumin-Braised Pulled Pork

Roasted Beet Napoleons with Rawson Brook Farm Chèvre

Hidden Pasture Farm Chicken Liver Mousse with Bill Stinson’s Sweet Onions

Berkshire Lambs’ Tongue with Pickled Ramps and Creole Mustard

Rabbit Terrine with Berkshire Mountain Distillers Eau de Vie and Clover Town Bread

Chocolate-Covered Windy Hill Farm Blueberries

Joseph Carr Sauvignon Blanc 2008

The Last Word > Berkshire Mountain Distillers Ethereal Gin, Green Chartreuse, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, and Fresh Lime

Berkshire Bitter > Berkshire Mountain Distillers Ice Glen Vodka and Fever-Tree Bitter Lemon Tonic


Hudson Valley Foie Gras and Berkshire Chicken Ballotine with Locally Foraged Wild Mushrooms
Joseph Carr Pinot Noir 2007

Seared Lila’s Lamb with Garlic–Zucchini Flan, Equinox Farm Tomatoes, and Shallot Fondue
Josh Cellars Santa Cruz Mt. Pinot Noir 2007

Dungeness Crab with Dave’s Melon Pavé, Farm Girl Farm Heirloom Tomatoes, Lime, and Lemon Verbena Vinaigrette
Joseph Carr Chardonnay 2007

Hidden Pasture Farm Milk–Fed Veal with Peace Valley Farm Fingerling Potatoes and Mighty Food Farm Greens
Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Grilled Bacon on the Side Pork Loin with Roasted Kimbi
Carrot Purée, Roasted Farm Girl Farm Beets, and Blue Moon Shrooms Ragoût
Joseph Carr Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Lavender, Blueberry, and Chocolate Mousse Cake with Sidehill Farm Yogurt Sauce
Joseph Carr Merlot 2006 welcomes comment, critique and dialogue with all content we publish. It’s about connecting.


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