Fox was named Madison Magazine's chef of the year before he even opened his new restaurant, Heritage Tavern, in early September. He and members of the Heritage team will "prepare a feast fit for the well-traveled locavore" at the Beard House in New York City on Feb. 3.
The James Beard Foundation annually awards the "Oscars of food," honoring established regional chefs, New York trendsetters, cookbooks, food journalists and rising stars.
Restaurants who are invited to cook at the House are responsible for everything from food and drink to paying for staff time and lodging in New York. Dinners function as fundraisers for the foundation; Heritage's spread is set to cost $130 for members and $170 for the general public.
The announcement of the Beard dinner comes at a sticky time for Fox, who has been under fire from food safety officials for allegedly providing unlicensed pork to local restaurants. Fox owns Fox Heritage Foods and runs his own heritage pig farm.
Officials from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection (DATCP) say he violated rules about feeding "animal food" to the pigs (which includes dairy) and selling meat to restaurants like Osteria Papavero, L'Etoile and Brasserie V without proper approval.
Fox responded that he has since contracted with Credible Consulting to oversee the health and safety procedures at the restaurant and "work with us in a holistic manner with everything we do."
"There were never any safety issues with the pork," Fox said. "It was purely paperwork. We're excited to move forward with the licensing and with DATCP."
Fox anticipates getting all the "fine tuning of paperwork" finished soon after the first of the year.
His menu for the Beard House dinner is already set, and will feature some dishes already on the menu at Heritage: pork belly and blackfin tuna with foie gras, pâté de campagne (a country terrine), deviled eggs and fried Great Lakes whitefish.
Fox has cooked there once before.
"It's a big honor to go," he said, noting that Heritage may do a preview dinner here, likely sometime in January. "Whenever I do events like this, I never like to reinvent the wheel. I like to do things that are tested and solid. It's a new environment; you want to showcase yourself well."
Fox is not the only local chef to cook at the Beard House. L'Etoile chef Tory Miller, who won the 2012 Beard Award for Best Chef-Midwest, took a team from Graze to cook at the Beard House on Dec. 5.
The preview dinner at Graze on Dec. 1 had an "end of Prohibition" theme — cocktail pairings alongside gnocchi with local parmesan, smoked beef brisket on mac and cheese made with 15-year-old Hook's cheddar, rainbow trout and pork bibimbap.