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James Beard Chefs Bring Flavors of the South to Sun Valley
Sunday, December 3, 2023


Two James Beard Award-winning chefs will present their spin on Idaho red trout, endowing it with mustard seed, ginger-spiced pencil cobb grits and curry leaf butter when the Sun Valley Culinary Institute presents a special five-course dinner to raise money for its student chef program.

Chefs John Currence and Vish Bhatt will craft the dinner, which will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15.

The dinner will be limited to 26 guests. Tickets are $750 per person--$500 which will be tax-deductible as a gift for the Sun Valley Culinary Institute Student Professional Fund.

Currence got his start cooking in a tiny galley kitchen for a crew on a tugboat that was working the oilfields in the Gulf of Mexico.

He further honed his passion for cooking in New Orleans, then opened City Grocery in Oxford, Miss. Since, his City Grocery Restaurant Group has opened Boure, Snackbar and Big Bad Breakfasts in four states. He received the James Beard Award for Best Chef South in 2009. That same year he won the Charleston Food and Wine Festival’s Iron Chef Challenge. And he was a Top Chef master’s contestant during season three.

He is the author of three best-selling books: “Pickles, Pigs and Whiskey,” “Big Bad Breakfast” and “Tailgreat.”

Bhatt immigrated with his family from Gujarat, India, in 2017, settling in Austin, Texas. He went on to become chef at Snackbar, an upscale purveyor of Southern and French food that serves up Southern dishes like mac and cheese with the flavors of and techniques of his native India,

He may be a native of India but in 2019 he was awarded “Southern Living’s” Southerner of the Year and the James Beard Foundation Best Chef South. In that vein, he is the author of “I Am From Here: Stories and Recipes from a Southern Chef.”

The two chefs plan to bring a taste of the South to the Dec. 15 dinner with an okra and seafood gumbo with green onion, rice pilaf and crispy garlic. Other dishes include chicken potpie hand pies, ravioli di uovo with guanciale in a parmesan cream sauce, tomato-braised pork cheeks with roasted garlic salsify and apple pie bread pudding with bourbon caramel and eggnog Chantilly cream.

The dinner will feature wines provided by Blackbird Vineyards of Napa Valley served up by Winemaker of the Year Aarron Pott.

For tickets, visit

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