Check out the winners of The Munchies, a locally-grown online national conversation about food. Check out all the winners here. I think the depth and breadth across the landscape of winners and nominees was really high quality and proves you can be populist, crowd sourced, and still maintain high standards for achievement and excellence. I am so proud to be involved.
Read this editorial by Mariella Mosthof about the cancellation of Geoff Edgers show, Edge of America, on Travel Channel. Make sure you read Geoff’s article linked within the Braiser piece. Edgers was kinder than Mosthof, and I think it's genuine. Had Edge of America rated better (I loved the show) it would still be on. And I think we all know going in that numbers dictate everything, every move, every decision that a network makes. In the midrange cable TV space, with all the competition for viewer attention, this is perhaps an understatement. Geoff acknowledges as much, but Mosthof raises some great questions about the splintering of the TV audience as cable stations clamor for claiming a unique personality for their programming as a whole. It’s a great read and this issue is one you will hear more about as networks and stations all have to make some tough decisions in coming years about who they are and what they stand for, if anything at all. I get asked all the time to ‘do this or that’ or ‘not to’ from execs at my network. When I agree, I comply. I take what I need from their suggestions and leave the rest. It’s the benefit of having been on air with Bizarre Foods for 8 years and having started out as ‘just being myself’ on camera. On most days I am convinced that if I was starting my career in TV now instead of a decade ago I wouldn’t last a season. I came up in a different era and am grandfathered in, so to speak. I am curious what you all think about the elitism issue that Mosthof and Edgers raise vis a vis on-air personalities? Let me know . . .
The James Beard Foundation Awards (check out all the pics on my Instagram feed) honor the best and the brightest talents in the food and beverage industries. Awards go to Restaurant and Chef, Restaurant Design, Books, Broadcast and New Media, and Journalism, as well as a few special achievement awards. Each category has an individual awards committee made up of industry professionals who volunteer their time to oversee the policies, procedures, and selection of judges for their respective awards programs. All award winners receive a certificate and a medallion engraved with the James Beard Foundation Awards insignia and a hearty handshake. There are no cash prizes. Let’s get right to it.
Friday night the book, broadcast, and journalism awards took place at Gotham Hall in NYC. Thomas Keller and Michael Ruhlman sat at the table behind me and I was repeatedly scolded by friends at my table for tweeting at them, making jokes, and generally behaving like a child in school. Guilty. I wish the world could see this hysterical and warm side of Keller. It really is amazing to most who meet him for first time how kind and funny he is. His reputation for seriousness is legendary, but he is always the first to come give his friends a hug and laugh. Ruhlman is simply hysterical and smart all the time. As he put it at the end of the night, “we have to kill a pig together and eat it real soon.” Agreed. The room was stunning, filled with most of the leading magazine and book editors, producers, publishers, media moguls, famous chefs, food writers, and dining critics in America. It was a great night, perfect in almost every way. You should go next year. Seriously.
Local wunderkinds Daniel Klein and Mirra Fine took home a JBF award for their series Perennial Plate. I stood and shouted, and pumped my fist when their names were called. I am a huge fan. Sadly they weren’t in the house, and I slunk dejectedly back into my chair. I will have to wait on my congratulatory hug for them. These young people are going places.
Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America by Maricel E. Presilla took Cookbook of the Year honors. Deserved. This just in, everything Latin is hot, getting hotter, and not going away.
Publication of the Year went to the non-profit magazine that strives to connect kids to food. ChopChop was a fabulous choice and I think its recognition shows you how far our industry is going to make our world a better place. Check them out at chopchopmag.org.
Local legend Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl was nominated for the M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award and I was rooting for her all the way despite having several friends in the category . . . but it went instead to Bizarre Foods Chicago alum Mike Sula for his Chicago Reader, “Chicken of the Trees” piece. If you haven’t read Sula’s amazing squirrel honoraria you need to do so. It was one of the best pieces I read all year and I have a particular fondness for the subject matter and for Mike. Congrats.
Television Program, On Location winner was The Mind of a Chef, hosted by Anthony Bourdain and produced by Anthony Bourdain, Joe Caterini, Alexandra Chaden, Jonathan Cianfrani, Christopher Collins, Peter Meehan, Michael Steed, and Lydia Tenaglia, all my pals at ZPZ Production. Both my show and Steve Rinella’s show were in this category and I thought a three-way tie would have been fair. Oh well. Seriously, it’s an awesome show and we need more shows like it on TV, intelligent and insightful and not filled with the typical fluff you see on the air. It takes risks.
Food Coverage in a General-Interest Publication went to Men’s Health and their editor Adina Steiman who is a good friend of mine and works her ass off to make the food coverage in that mag what it is. That’s the hardest job in the biz, convincing general interest publications to keep food smart and relevant. She also won a second award that night. Boom. Love this lady. Congrats!
Group Food Blog award went to Dark Rye, which is essentially a Whole Foods Market online video mag. Its pretty brilliant and their win demonstrates the unique blend of art and commerce circulating online and competing with traditional media. This is the type of site that scares the crap out of cable networks because Whole Foods sinks traditionally spent ad dollars into this and succeeds! Voila. Game changer.
Individual Food Blog went to Bizarre Foods alum Hank Shaw of Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. Hank is an amazing man, and many people first met him in our Northern California episode on our dove hunt. He’s a superb guy and stands at the intersection of the hunt/fish/forage/cook movement. Keep tabs on his stuff if you love food, even if you never head into the great beyond to find it.
On the food side of the equation, Monday night's Chef and Restaurateur Awards saw NYC take down a lot of the medals, and most food pundits who are Los Angelenos, Chicagoans, Houstonians all thought their cities could have fared better. True enough. The nature of these awards is such that every nominee is easily defendable as a hands down winner. Makes parsing the finals a moot point. There are always frustrations. I was thrilled that Wylie Dufresne finally won a JBF award. He and I were talking on Saturday at the Eleven Madison Park annual Derby Party about the nature of awards in general and while the world knows of his brilliance and he is on every chefs list of ‘top 10 best,’ its nice to get the recognition from the JBF.
Speaking of parties, I hope everyone gets a chance to do the following:
· Find out how funny Alex Stupak is to hang out with, shoot the breeze. This young man is as smart and awesome as they come.
· Attend a Southern Foodways Alliance event. I went to the annual lunch on Monday at Butter, Alex Guarnaschelli’s restaurant, and the food was superb and the company even better. Julian Van Winkle really does carry around his own flask of the worlds best bourbon, John T. Edge is really that cool to hear talk about anything, and Jennifer Cole, Ed Lee, Matt Jamie, Team Besh, Team Animal/Son of a Gun, Francis Lam and all the others there make for the finest lunch mates I could have imagined.
· Attend the annual Derby Party at Eleven Madison Park. Grandma Humm’s fried chicken with house ranch and pickled vegetables is a legend in the making.
· Eat the new squab dish on the menu at Osteria Morini. Torpedo onions and crispy skin. Boom.
I should tell you that I also attended Restaurant Daniel’s 20th Anniversary party and can safely report that it was universally regarded as the most flawless, impressive over-the-top experience many of us can ever remember attending. Yes, aspects of it felt a little bit like the fall of the Roman Empire, but c’mon, Sirio and Martha were there! Team Boulud killed it and hometown hero Gavin Kaysen of Café Boulud was beaming with his team that day.
Monday night, awards went to the following:
2013 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards
Rising Star Chef of the Year
Danny Bowien, Mission Chinese Food, SF and NYC . . . the hottest restaurant of the year just got hotter.
Outstanding Bar Program
The Aviary, Chicago . . . the gold standard.
Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional
Merry Edwards, Merry Edwards Winery, Sebastopol, CA . . . 40 years in the wine biz as a leader and a visionary. Great choice.
Outstanding Wine Program
Frasca Food and Wine, Boulder
Best Chef: Great Lakes
Stephanie Izard, Girl & the Goat, Chicago . . . I got to put the medal around her neck and couldn’t have been more proud of my friend.
Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic
Johnny Monis, Komi, Washington, D.C. . . . My favorite resto in the region but I was pulling for Spike Gjerde at Woodberry Kitchen.
Best Chef: Midwest
Colby Garrelts, Bluestem, Kansas City, MO
Best Chef: New York City
Wylie Dufresne, WD~50, NYC . . . it's about time. Wow. Shocked to hear he hadn't won this before.
Best Chef: Northwest
Gabriel Rucker, Le Pigeon, Portland, OR . . . long overdue. My meal at LP was one of most memorable of the year.
Best Chef: West
Christopher Kostow, The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, CA . . . if you love food and love seeing what chefs can do when they are in full command of a brilliant team, superb technique, and perfect ingredients and you don’t head out west and book a table here one night and Manresa the next, you should have your head examined.
Best Chef: Northeast
Melissa Kelly, Primo, Rockland, ME . . . one of my favorite restos in Maine
Best Chef: South
Tory McPhail, Commander's Palace, New Orleans . . . the legend of Commanders continues.
Best Chef: Southeast
Joseph Lenn, The Barn at Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN . . . superb choice, and the cult of the farm groweth!
Best Chef: Southwest
Jennifer Jasinski, Rioja, Denver . . . surprised many, but not anyone who has eaten at any of her restaurants.
Restaurant Design and Graphics: 75 Seats and Under
Isa, Taavo Somer, Brooklyn, NY
Restaurant Design and Graphics: 76 Seats and Over:
Juvia, Alejandro Barrios Carrero Designs, Miami Beach
2013 Who’s Who Inductees
Zarela Martinez, Michael Mina, Bill Yosses, Eric Asimov, Dorothy Kalins, and Barbara Lynch
Lifetime Achievement Award
Cecilia Chiang (Chef and Restaurateur, San Francisco) . . . taught America to love Chinese food.
Humanitarian of the Year
Emeril Lagasse (Chef and Restaurateur, New Orleans) . . . devotes most of his time to charity and doesn’t advertise it. A superb humanitarian.
Outstanding Pastry Chef
Brooks Headley, Del Posto, NYC . . . one of my favorite places to eat.
Best New Restaurant
State Bird Provisions, San Francisco, CA . . . my first stop on my next trip out there.
Del Posto, NYC
Maguy Le Coze, Le Bernardin, NYC . . . superb choice, the only restaurateur with one restaurant in the bunch of nominees. Says it all. Wow.
Blue Hill, NYC . . . Dan is the man.
Winner of Outstanding Chef
TIE I love ties. It means more winners.
David Chang, Momofuku Noodle Bar, NYC
Paul Kahan, Blackbird, Chicago