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Lillie’s Q, James Beard and Katherine McKenna: Matches Made in Culinary Heaven


Last Wednesday, Lillie’s Q chef-owner and barbecue champ Charlie McKenna hosted a dinner at the James Beard House in New York. Now, you may think that barbecue may be too plebeian or messy for a Beard House dinner, but McKenna was a Tru and Avenues alum before he decided to play with tongs and barbecue sauce. McKenna’s Beard House fare was an upscale take on classic barbecue and Southern dishes. Think smoked and southern fried poussin with Carolina plantation rice; peanut soup with grilled peaches, toasted peanuts, sugarcane vinegar and scallions; bacon custard-filled beignets with bacon fat powder and chicory coffee-bacon syrup, along with Lillie’s Q custom brews and cocktails. The juxtaposition of simple southern classics against the high falutin’ fusion of unexpected flavors and ingredients in Charlie’s Beard House dinner was definitely a success.

If you happened to miss his New York visit however, McKenna will be back in the saddle on August 21 for the Lillie’s Q Inferno Imperial IPA release charity party prepared by him and seven of his chef friends. The party is a fundraiser to benefit the Katherine McKenna Brothers Scholarship Fund. Katherine McKenna, Charlie McKenna’s aunt, lost her seven-year battle with breast cancer in 2000, and Charlie’s father and brother set up the Fund in Katherine’s honor a few years ago to provide scholarship money for the female students of Brenau University in Gainesville, GA, Katherine’s undergrad alma mater. 100 tickets are available for this exclusive event, and all proceeds go to the Scholarship Fund. If all 100 tix are sold, the party will potentially raise $10,000 for the Fund.

Every patron will receive three drinks at the event—two 8-oz. pours of the Inferno Imperial IPA, a double India pale ale infused with chili peppers, to specifically pair with Lillie’s Q fare, and one Lillie’s Q Bourbon cocktail made with the exclusive Lillie’s Q Henry McKenna 10-year aged single barrel bourbon, Briottet creme de banane and creme de noisette liqueurs, and Imbue Bittersweet vermouth. Both beverages will debut at the event. Passed apps from all eight chefs will provide the food and fun for the evening, so bring your appetite. You’ll be eating from the hands of these culinary wonders:

*Stephanie Izard - Girl & The Goat
* Matthias Merges - Yusho
* Chris Pandel -The Bristol and Balena
* Mike Sheerin - Trenchermen
* Pat Sheerin - Trenchermen
* Greg Biggers - Café des Architectes
* Chris Curren - Stout Barrel House & Galley

While you’re simultaneously eating well and doing good, the IPA fundraiser pays even more dividends. Every patron will receive a pink silicone bracelet which entitles them to 10 percent off their bill for the life of the restaurant whenever they come in wearing it. Purchase tickets here.

Chef Charlie McKenna and his crew outside the James Beard House. Photo: Philip Gross/(c)2012
Chef Charlie McKenna plating the shrimp & grits hors d’oeuvre. Photo: Philip Gross/(c)2012
Shrimp & Grits, just like mama used to make them. Photo: Philip Gross/(c)2012
Benne crackers with pimiento cheese and chives. Photo: Philip Gross/(c)2012
Miniature biscuits with pepper jelly. Photo: Philip Gross/(c)2012
Miniature pulled pork sandwiches. Photo: Philip Gross/(c)2012
Cocktail hour included Charlie McKenna’s Lillie’s Q Inferno Imperial IPA, brewed with Goose Island’s Jared Rouben. Photo: Philip Gross/(c)2012
A course of pickled shrimp with succotash, country ham, mustard greens and brown butter. Photo: Philip Gross/(c)2012
Smoked and southern fried poussin with Carolina Plantation rice, collard greens and white gravy. Photo: Philip Gross/(c)2012
The dining room. Photo: Philip Gross/(c)2012
Banana pudding. Photo: Philip Gross/(c)2012
Chef Charlie McKenna posing with his family after the dinner. Photo: Philip Gross/(c)2012
Lillie’s Q, James Beard and Katherine McKenna: Matches Made in Culinary Heaven