If you missed the James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour stop in L.A. last summer, not to worry; the culinary powerhouse is headed back to Southern California, this time bringing with it a weekend full of cooking demonstrations, extravagant meals and even a few Food Network stars, thrown in for good measure. Interested? Mark your calendar for January 29 and 30, when the James Beard House hosts its Friends of James Beard Benefit at Zov's Bistro in Tustin.

The event is hosted by longtime Beard Foundation supporter and Zov's Bistro owner, Zov Karamardian, and includes guest chef appearances and cooking demonstrations by chefs Michael Symon (Iron Chef America, Cook Like an Iron Chef) and Anne Burrell (Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, Worst Cooks in America). All we know is that James Beard better have some seriously generous “friends,” because general admission tickets to the two-day event run $500/each. However, if you're lucky enough to be a James Beard Foundation member, you get a special discounted price of $400 per ticket.

Just what do you get in exchange for shelling out that kind of dough? The first night opens at 6 p.m. with a seven-course dinner. Think zucchini fritters with Scottish smoked salmon and crème fraîche, soujouk popovers, and pork tenderloin and tapenade crostini hors d'oeuvres served alongside glasses of Champagne Gosset Brut ExCellence NV. Dinner includes courses of spicy Greek cured beef with shaved truffles (Bergerie L'Hortus Rosé de Saignée 2009), herb-crusted Cypress haloumi (Boutari Moschofilero 2009), branzino with vegetables and jasmine rice confetti (Faiveley Bourgogne Chardonnay 2005), Niman Ranch roasted rack of lamb (Chateau Ksara Red 2002), brandied apple parfait with Tahitian vanilla ice cream and caramel Sauce (R.L. Buller & Son Premium Fine Muscat NV), and a selection of mignardises.

Day two includes cooking demonstrations by Symon and Burrell, showing you how to slice, dice and saute like a pro. If you go, make sure to pepper Symon with requests to bring Food Feuds to Southern California (pastrami sandwich feud, anyone?). For more information or to make reservations, visit the James Beard House website or call (714) 838-8855.

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