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Steamboat Magazine

Among the Greats: Bésame Reflects on the James Beard House

11/05/2019 02:22PM ● By Alesha Damerville

By Alesha Damerville

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – “It’s been a long time since I’ve been around a group that is such a family.” When working in the service industry, the best way to ensure things run smoothly is good teamwork. Hearing a compliment like the one above makes all the hard work leading up to an event, like the one that Steamboat restaurant Bésame catered at the James Beard House in New York City, worth the effort.  

Bésame was invited to present at the James Beard House on September 26. The James Beard Foundation’s mission is to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone. For more than 30 years the Foundation has accomplished this mission through programs that highlight food’s central role in our lives.

“We had a lot of time to plan this event, and there were a lot of long days,” says Natasha Kreft, general manager of Bésame. “The anticipation didn’t really hit us until the week of, when we started to mail everything to New York.” 

The team began preparing in order to be ready for virtually any potential problem. The whole team came together. “Yes, we were all anxious, excited and nervous, but we had each other to lean on,” Kreft says. 

“There were days before where I felt sick to my stomach or I would lose sleep at night wondering if the food was going to show up, if it would still be cold and if everything would play out alright,” says Bésame chef Joe Campbell. 

Shortly after the group of nine arrived in New York, all of their prepped items followed suit, and by some miracle everything arrived in perfect condition. 

The night of the event naturally started with a bit of nerves, but ended with an enormous sense of satisfaction. Service was smooth. 

Campbell used an assembly line to quickly and efficiently plate each course. “Each person had their part they put on the plate,” he says. “The plates went out quickly and they were all beautiful.”

“A table of James Beard board members mentioned the meal to be in the top ten best dinners to come of out that kitchen in the last decade,” Campbell says. “Anything is possible. I never really thought I’d be invited to cook at the James Beard House – some of the most elite chefs in the world have passed through there.”

“Cooking at the James Beard House was truly a dream come true,” says Bésame co-owner Hannah Hopkins. “I believe in creating good culture and leadership and providing the tools that my restaurant family needs to succeed. I am proud to have seen that all come together in the most memorable evening of my career. 

“I’m proud of my team and proud to represent a little piece of Steamboat Springs in New York City at the James Beard House,” she says. 

Just over a month after Bésame’s debut at the James Beard House, the collaborative minds behind the event find satisfaction in a job well done and look forward to future collaborations with the James Beard Foundation.

To learn more about Bésame, visit