Recapping last night's live report from the 2009 James Beard Foundation Awards, Jean Georges won the prize for Outstanding Restaurant, Dan Barber won for Outstanding Chef, Nate Appleman (of San Francisco's A16) won the Rising Star Chef award, and Momofuku Ko won for Best New Restaurant. (Chef/Owners: David Chang and Peter Serpico, New York, NY)
Jennifer McLagen's Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes, won awards for both Single Subject Cookbook and Cookbook of the Year. The James Beard Foundation has a complete listing of all of the winners.
Some highlights from the evening:
SPOILER ALERT This had to be the oddest thing. In a strange twist, at 9:00 p.m., the New York Times revealed the winners of some of the most important awards of the evening -- outstanding chef, best new restaurant, and others -- notwithstanding the fact that the awards had yet to be given at the ceremony.
How could this happen exactly?
According to Washington Post food editor Joe Yonan, it appears that the Beard Foundation sent the Times and other major news outlets the names of the winners in advance, but embargoed that information until 9:00 p.m. (when the awards should have probably been over). Since the ceremony went long, when the Times went ahead and published the winners, they preceded the announcement of the awards at the ceremony.
This was certainly a buzzkill if you were watching the ceremony live. But, why does this matter? On the one hand, it's a perfectly understandable mix-up. On the other hand, it was one of those "see how your sausage is made" moments when the curtain is pulled back on the delicate dance between public relations and the media (which, in this case, stumbled). Not that the stakes are very high (this was just a food event after all). However, the awards purport to be the culinary equivalent of the Oscars, in which case it was just plain weird to find out that the details of the winners and losers were already being made available to some members of the press. In the age of instantaneous communication of news via the Internet, this kind of charade seems all the more retrograde. What do you think of press release embargoes?
SIGHTINGS Up close and personal, we saw Martha Stewart, Mario Batali, Daniel Boulud, Jean Georges Vogerichten, Emeril Lagasse, Rick Bayless, and the bearded dude from Anthrax.
BEST BITES It would be impossible to recount the details of all of the tasty dishes served post-ceremony, but favorites included Lidia Bastianich's almond flan, Chanterelle's rice pudding with rhubarb, and Charlie Trotter's terrine of morels and fava beans.