“We’re trying to duplicate exactly what we’ll do there so we can practice. … That’s what I’ve learned by Abraham [Salum], Janice [Provost] and Nikky [Phinyawatana], who have all been,” Quiñones-Pittman says. “We’re going to run through the whole menu with the cocktails, then tweak it if something doesn't taste right or look right.”
The chef says she first went with Salum in 2013.
“I knew it was a big deal, but I didn't know the severity of it until all these years later, really knowing the chefs that have cooked there, [who have] received nominations,” she says. “I remember handing off the last plate to a server; I just got overwhelmed and started crying.
“[Salum] said you'll get here eventually,” Quiñones-Pittman, 39, says. “It’s an honor. It’s a huge deal … I hold him in such high standards. To kind of be on that level now is pretty good.”
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The chef can take any staff she’d like to join her at the James Beard House: She’s taking five employees, three of whom have never been on a plane, and none of whom have been to New York.
“I could have easily picked the best chefs to go with me. It was so much more important to find people to cover our shifts to get guys to go with me. They wouldn't have this opportunity otherwise,” she says.
If you’re really into what she and her team will be doing for that dinner, you can head to José that very night. Cameras in the James Beard House will livestream the dinner, and you can watch it at the restaurant on Lovers Lane, where they’ll serve a few of the best items from the dinner.
José is on the Observer’s Top 100 Restaurants list for 2020.