Below are the winners of the major James Beard Awards . . . ouch.
Let’s recap the most outrageous surprise: Despite the fact that I voted for Mike Lata at FIG, Bob Stehling is a choice you can’t argue with. Same with most of the other winners, some of who, such as Carrie Nahabedian, are make goods from years past when they should have won. Patrick Connolly is doing great things at Radius in Boston, and my meal there last September (my third time there but first while PC was doing the cooking) was amazing. It is my wife’s fave spot in Boston, but Rob Evans at Hugo’s in Portland, Maine, should have won the top prize. Just my opinion.
Many of the chefs and restaurateurs I voted for ended up winning, but I still can’t help but feel that chefs in smaller states and cities that are less traveled by the voting members get the short end of the stick. Which is why when the Twin Cities moved out of Chicago’s region, I thought a local chef winning the award would be easy. In fact, I thought we would win two awards. I was only half right. I knew that Gavin Kaysen would win the newcomer award; he is a talented young man and is also, drum roll, a locally raised chef. Congrats GK, you deserved the JBA! And with all the respect in the world to Adam Siegel, who deserves a congrats for wining in our region, he is not half the cook that Tim, Alex, or Isaac are. I was shocked to learn he won. In fact, I would go as far as to say that Bluestem in KC and our three local eateries whose chefs got nominated are all better experiences than Lake Park Bistro. I am convinced that any judge who ate at all five restaurants would be hard-pressed to make any case that Siegel was the best chef out of the five nominated, so I am left to believe that many of the judges simply got forced into voting for LPB and Siegel because they had eaten there throughout the last umpteen years it has been open and had not dined at the other nominated chefs’ restaurants. I’ve got to figure out a way to make this work a little better. Any thoughts? Also, as much as I love David Chang’s three restaurants, Wiley Dufresne should have won the JBA in NYC.
But, none of those shockers are half as disturbing as the fact that Lisa made it into the final three for tomorrow’s Top Chef finale!!! C’mon! She was not even one of the six best cooks in the competition. Anyway, as much as I have come to admire some of Richard’s dishes, I am rooting for Stephanie to win, and I think she will.
2008 James Beard Award Winners
Outstanding Restaurateur: ?Joe Bastianich/Mario Batali?, Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca
Outstanding Chef: ?Grant Achatz, Alinea, Chicago
Outstanding Restaurant: ?Gramercy Tavern, NYC, ?Danny Meyer
Best New Restaurant: ?Central Michel Richard, Washington, DC?Chef/Owner: Michel Richard
Rising Star Chef of the Year: ?Gavin Kaysen, ?Café Boulud, NYC
Outstanding Pastry Chef: ?Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson ?Tartine Bakery, ?San Francisco
Cookbook of the Year: The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Ten Speed Press)
Best Newspaper Feature Writing About Restaurants And/Or Chefs: ?Brett Anderson, The Times-Picayune, "Landmark Decisions: A Five-Part Series Chronicling the Ruin and Restoration of a Classic New Orleans Restaurant."
Best Website Focusing On Food, Beverage, Restaurant, Or Nutrition: ?Epicurious
Best Multimedia Writing On Food: ?Josh Ozersky and Daniel Maurer, New York, "Grub Street"
Best Television Food Show, National and Local: ?Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie
For more winners, see complete results here.