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SoDel Concepts Chef Doug Ruley to cook at James Beard House Jan. 29

December 26, 2015

Doug Ruley, corporate chef for Rehoboth Beach-based SoDel Concepts, has been invited to cook at the James Beard House in New York City Friday, Jan. 29. This will be the third time Ruley has prepared a meal in the former home of the late James Beard, an American cookbook author, teacher, syndicated columnist and television personality.

“It’s always exciting to go to New York and show off our chefs and our local cuisine from Sussex County, Delaware,” said Scott Kammerer, president and CEO of SoDel Concepts, which owns eight restaurants, Plate Catering and Big Thunder Roadside Kitchen, a food truck. “There are many excellent chefs and restaurants along the culinary ooast, which we consider to be a culinary destination, and many are deserving. It’s a privilege to be asked for a third time to cook at the James Beard House. We love to go up there and spread the word that Delaware is a dining destination.”

Organized by the James Beard Foundation, the regularly scheduled dinners, held in Beard’s townhome at 167 W. 12th St. in Greenwich Village, feature four- to five-course meals with wine pairings prepared by guest chefs from around the world. The meals can highlight an individual chef or chefs from more than one restaurant. They can showcase the restaurant’s concept or a theme.

Ruley this year has crafted a menu with the theme Winter at the Beach. The menu includes such coastal-inspired dishes as poached lobster sausage, smoked bluefish on toast, Sweet Jesus oysters with chow chow, tuna and hot sauce, day boat scallops, a clam pan roast, seared halibut and “lobster gravy,” with flash-fried lobster, a scrapple-and-grits cake, a poached egg and “burnt” scallion oil.

In addition to hand-selected wines from around the world, guests will enjoy an opening cocktail made with Matt’s Homemade Root Beer, part of the company’s artisan soda line, and vanilla-spiced rum. The reception will also include a pomegranate-and-rosemary cocktail made with Prosecco by Conti Di San Bonafacio in Tuscany, a partner of SoDel Concepts. The dessert will pair with a specially brewed Sun Chaser beer, a collaboration with 16 Mile Brewery in Georgetown.

Izabela Wojcik, director of house programming at the James Beard House, called the menu “A perfect expression of the Mid-Atlantic coastal region - it’s inviting winter fare.”

Ruley and his team, pulled from SoDel Concepts’ eight restaurants, enjoy the trip to the city and cooking in the house, despite the challenge of working in the slender kitchen space. “We’ve developed a great relationship with the foundation over the years,” he said.

Now that it’s their third time, the nervous jitters are less prevalent, particularly since their dishes have been so well received in the past. “The pressure is off,” he said. “We will just go up and have fun doing what we do best.” The third time truly is a charm.

The event starts at 7 p.m. For tickets, go to jamesbeard.org/events/coastal-winter.