Has all the local Beard Buzz made you hungry? Want to be a part of the action at next year’s Beard awards? It’s the big twentieth-anniversary edition, and it is at Avery Fisher Hall on Monday, May 3, 2010. Susan Ungaro, JBS honcho, told me over lunch last week that it is not to be missed. Since I have not been able to attend the last four years because of shooting schedules for Travel Channel, I was eager to pencil it in so that I won’t miss the big show. See you there.
As great a moment as it was for our own Tim McKee to finally win an award, I thought the greatest “it's about time moment” was when my pal Rob Evans won. I believe it was his fourth nomination for one of the hardest working and most talented guys in the biz, and in a region so top heavy with deserving talent, it is a shame any of the nominees had to lose. His places are in Portland, Maine, and I know a lot of Minnesotans spend time there each summer, so check him out.
Hugo’s; 88 Middle St.; Portland, Maine; 207-774-8538
Duckfat; 43 Middle St.; Portland, Maine; 207-774-8080
Dan Barber was as good a choice as anyone could make for Outstanding Chef this year. That’s a hard one to pick, and there were no right or wrong choices with this year's pool.
The most impactful award of each year, in my opinion, is the Rising Star chef award; it is a huge career-making platform to spring onward from, and this year I thought either Appleman, Rucker, or Monis deserved it. I am glad one of them (Appleman for his work at Fricso’s A16) won.
Mike Lata from FIG won in his region. He’s an amazing chef with huge gobs of natural ability who cooks in an unpretentious style. His food is delicious, and I am thrilled for him personally. I am a little surprised at the size of his new mustache that he was sporting around that night, however; it is way too righteously '70s.
That being said, this year I had nary a quibble with a single choice in the chef/restaurant categories, and that’s a first, so I have to give credit to the committee honchos who have tweaked the rules throughout the years and made the awards as controversy-free as they ever have been. The complete winners and nominees are listed here.
Press release of the month. Some are a lot better than others, and this one rocks . . . literally.
“On Sunday, May 17th Gastro Non Grata will be hanging out along with FLAK Radio in the Modern Cafe parking lot starting at 11 a.m. To perk up your senses the chefs at the Modern are gonna roast some pigs and stuff some fresh country sausage. Emily's Lebanese Deli is sweetening the deal with a few pans of the best baklava on the block. Two Brothers Brewing from the Chicagoland area will be on hand to tell their story and sample beer with the crowd. St. Paul wine distributor, Bourget Imports will also be on hand to sample some wine with pig flesh. That's all going to taste great, but don't forget about the fine local music throughout the day. Les Ourses symphonic stylings will start things off and Modern Café's own That’s What You Get will get the crowd moving. They'll be followed by the brooding noise of Hunting Club. To put a rock cherry on the top of this musical sundae, hard chargin' Private Dancer and free-wheeling Chooglin' will see if they can't muster up a noise complaint or two before the sun sets. This is a free event, samples will be provided throughout the day but all beer, wine and food will be also be available for sale in large portions.”
FYI: Gastro Non Grata returns to the Triple Rock Social Club Sunday, May 24th from 6-9 p.m.
Hysterical article of the month. From Gourmet.com comes a “great slice” of Chris Bianco. I met Chris last month, and we hit it off right away. He is a seriously great guy who loves what he does, but describing him is difficult. This piece does a nice job. Although Bianco can cook like a mo-fo, he’s not playing when it comes to food. I can also tell you that the often-referenced (here as well) Franny’s and Di Fara in New York are ridiculously great pizza places. Check 'em out next time you are in NYC, and don’t miss Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix.