According to my inbox, “ the James Beard Foundation has kicked off the 2010 James Beard Foundation Awards and announced that Wayne Kostroski, founder of the annual Taste of the NFL celebration, is the recipient of the 2010 Humanitarian of the Year award. Mr. Kostroski will be honored at this year’s James Beard Foundation Awards, the nation’s most prestigious honors for culinary professionals, in an awards ceremony taking place on Monday, May 3, 2010 at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York City. The Humanitarian of the Year award is given to an individual or organization whose work in the realm of food has improved the lives of others and benefited society at large.”
“'We are thrilled to announce that Wayne Kostroski has been selected as our 2010 Humanitarian of the Year,' says Susan Ungaro, President of the James Beard Foundation. 'Through the Taste of the NFL and his tireless efforts over the years, Wayne has created a national platform that continues to raise awareness and millions of dollars for hunger relief not just in the culinary community, but across the entire country.'”
Now, often times awards like this are bunk and words like Susan’s are simply media-crack spin but not in this case. The most memorable interview I ever did on the local dining scene was my profile of Wayne for Mpls.St.Paul Mag from six years ago. He is the most generous, kind, professional, and impressive man in every way. He is my friend. He is a tireless worker and devotes most of his time doing good works. He is an awesome rock-star, having played bass in the famous ‘60s/’70s rock band Circus. He always emails me when the band plays a reunion gig. He gushed last time I saw him, the day before his daughter’s wedding. He loves his family more than anything. He is one of my role models.
Here’s a quote from that interview
“I really have always wondered why we are on this planet”, he says, warming his hands on his coffee mug, “and what I have always come back to is the idea that my mother instilled in me as a young boy, she always told me to ‘Help out whenever you can’, that’s how she ran her life, and she taught me to be aware of others needs. But I was a slow learner. One day in 1985 I was producing the Uptown Art Fair, and I really wanted to do a music festival, but I was getting bad reactions to the idea and I figured I needed a charity aligned with the event as a way to convince the neighborhood to go for it. I stopped by the Joyce Emergency Food Shelf and I saw a mother and her children filling their bags with groceries and it floored me. I knew where the food was, I knew that restaurant people were the most giving people in the world, and I knew at that moment that it was my responsibility to get it to them.” Nineteen years later the moment seems even more inspired.
Bravo to the JBF for honoring Wayne, who even as we speak is down in Florida working this year’s event for Taste of the NFL. The annual James Beard Foundation Media and Book Awards Dinner, an exclusive event honoring the nation’s top cookbooks, food journalists, and culinary broadcast programs, will take place on Sunday, May 2, 2010 at Espace in New York City. The following evening, the James Beard Foundation Awards Ceremony and Gala Reception will take place at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York City. I will be there and so should you.
Want to have some fun next week? How about a dinner at the Bell Museum. Five courses, $50, and the theme is one of exploration. Think of the “evolution of cooking over the course of human history... from open flames to sous vide,” according to Jim Norton at Heavy Table. The dinner is Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. The chef is Chris Olson, currently working over at Meritage, but some may know him from the Paired underground dinner events. Check it out here.
Heavy Table is also hosting a free party at Craftsman on Feb. 17 at 5 p.m. celebrating its one-year anniversary.