Most people hope to catch a show and maybe a nice dinner when they visit New York City, but most people aren't chef Jasper J. Mirabile, Jr. In a span of five days -- Saturday to this Wednesday -- Mirabile cooked dinner for 80 at The James Beard House, helped guide a tour for 25 Kansas Citians around New York and New Jersey, and took his wife and daughter to close to a dozen restaurants.
"We probably did more in four days than most people do in a lifetime in New York City," says Mirabile.
There were cannolis at Carlo's Bakery, pastrami sandwiches from the Stage Deli, hot dogs at Gray's Papaya, a tour of Jacques Torres' chocolate factory, oysters from the Grand Central Oyster Bar, pizza from Lombardi's, seared tuna at SD26, every dessert on the menu from Le Cirque, and foam out the wazoo at WD50.
"I always try and learn something that I can bring back to Kansas City and now I've got lots of ideas for the restaurant," says Mirabile.
Mirabile was part tour-guide, part tourist himself. In addition to his wife and daughter, Mirabile was accompanied by 25 vacationers from Travels with Taste -- the specialty travel company owned by Mariann Vanderberg.
The 25 Kansas Citians joined another 55 for the sold-out dinner at the James Beard House. Mirabile also had a bit of home in the kitchen with his chef Marvin Lewis from Jasper's Restuarant, his nephew Jasper Mirabile III, and baker Suzanne Frisse there to assist. He also brought along a few bottles of Shatto Milk -- in order to help showcase local products.
"It's only 80 people -- for us that's a slow night at Jasper's. But with the Sundance Film Channel [there filming a documentary on The James Beard House] and food critics from CBS Radio and Crane's, I wanted to be on top of my game," says Mirabile.
For his fifth time cooking at The James Beard House, he wanted to bring the classic Italian flavors that he is known for in Kansas City. There was pacheri "old school" Sunday ragu with eggplant and fresh ricotta, as well as an insalata della casa with la quercia salumeria, wild greens, dried figs and truffle oil. The meat course was five-hour roasted pork shanks with black truffle polenta and broccoli rabe. And they finished with two desserts -- a Sicilian olive oil cake with blood orange granita and "on the cannoli trail," a cannoli della nana and Reno's Sicilian Gelato.
"You want to show people in New York City
that we know what we're doing in Kansas City and that we can stand
right up there with the top chefs in New York or Paris or Italy," says
His cooking duties done, he had time to catch a performance of Jersey Boys and was elected vice president of Gruppo Ristoratori Italiani to represent the Midwest. His flight landed yesterday at 1 p.m. and by 2:30 p.m. he was back in his kitchen, at work on the January prix fixe menu for Jasper's.