2011 James Beard Foundation Awards Winners Announced

Winners were announced Monday night, May 9, 2011, at the annual 2011 James Beard Foundation Awards, the nation’s most prestigious recognition program honoring professionals in the food and beverage industries.  During a ceremony hosted by Tom Colicchio, Traci Des Jardins and Ming Tsai at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, awards in the Restaurant and Chef and the Design and Graphics categories were presented, as well as a number of special achievement awards including Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America, America’s Classics, Lifetime Achievement, and Humanitarian of the Year.  Winners of the Foundation’s annual Book, Broadcast and Journalism Awards were presented on May 6, 2011, at the ceremony and dinner at Espace in New York City, hosted by Ted Allen of Food Network’s Chopped and The Best Thing I Ever Ate and Gail Simmons of Bravo’s Top Chef.  A complete list of all award-winners can be found on www.JBFAwards.com.

Highlights from this year’s list of winners include:

Outstanding Chef: Jose Andres (minibar, Washington, D.C.)

Outstanding Restaurant: Eleven Madison Park (NYC, Owner: Danny Meyer)

Rising Star Chef: Gabriel Rucker (Le Pigeon, Portland, OR)

Best New Restaurant: ABC Kitchen (NYC, Chef/Owner: Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Owner: Phil Suarez)

In addition, special achievement award honorees included:

Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America: Jonathan Gold (Writer, LA Weekly, Los Angeles); Lee Jones (Farmer/ Owner, Chef’s Garden, Huron, OH); Charles Phan (Chef/Owner, The Slanted Door, San Francisco, CA); Frank Stitt (Chef/Owner, Highlands Bar and Grill, Birmingham, AL); Nick Valenti (CEO, Patina Restaurant Group, New York, NY)

America’s Classics: Chef Vola’s (Owners:  Louise Esposito, Michael Esposito, Michael Esposito, Jr., Louis Esposito, Atlantic City, NJ); Crook’s Corner (Owner:  Gene Hamer, Chapel Hill, NC); Noriega Restaurant and Hotel (Owners:  Linda Elizalde McCoy and Rochelle Ladd, Bakersfield, CA); Le Veau d’Or (Owner:  Robert Treboux, New York, NY); Watt’s Tea Shop (President and CEO:  Sam Watts, Milwaukee, WI)

Lifetime Achievement Award: Kevin Zraly (Wine Educator and Author, Windows on the World Complete Wine Course)

Humanitarian of the Year: FareStart (Founder:  David Lee)

Highlights from the Book, Broadcast and Journalism Awards announced on Friday, May 6, 2011, at the Awards dinner at Espace included:

Cookbook of the Year: Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy by Diana Kennedy (University of Texas Press)

Cookbook Hall of Fame:  On Food and Cooking: The Science & Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee

Publication of the Year: Edible Communities

M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award: Jonathan Gold, LA Weekly, A Movable Beast”

Audio Webcast or Radio Show:  CBC Ideas: “Pasta: The Long and Short of It” Host: Megan Williams, Area: Canada and Online, Producers: Susan Mahoney and Megan Williams

Television Program, In Studio or Fixed Location: Top Chef: Season 7, Host: Padma Lakshmi, Network: Bravo, Producers: Tom Colicchio, Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz, and Dave Serwatka

Television Program, On Location: Avec Eric, Host: Eric Ripert, Network: PBS, Online Producers: Justin Barocas, Heather Brown, and Geoffrey Drummond

TV Food Personality/Host: Alton Brown, Show: Good Eats, Network: Food Network

Food Section of a General Interest Publication: San Francisco Chronicle, Jon Bonne and Miriam Morgan

Craig Claiborne Distinguished Restaurant Review: Patric Kuh, Los Angeles, “Animal Magnetism,” “Making Their Move,” “Time for a Redo?”

Group Food Blog: Grub Street New York, Newyork.grubstreet.com, Daniel Maurer, Jenny Miller, and Alan Sytsma

Individual Food Blog: Politics of the Plate, Politicsoftheplate.com, Barry Estabrook

Industry leaders from across the country attended the highly-anticipated festivities, which celebrated this year’s Awards theme of “The Ultimate Melting Pot,” a tribute to the nation’s wonderfully diverse food culture, a mosaic of influences from many lands, as described by James Beard himself in American Cookery, in which he acknowledged the unique character of American food that resulted from the varied backgrounds of American citizens.  In a nod to this year’s theme, the Foundation invited both chefs who have emigrated from various places to America as well as chefs born in America that have been inspired by international cuisines to present dishes that reflect the country’s multi-cultural influences.  At the Gala Reception immediately following the Awards Ceremony, guests enjoyed a dine-around gala prepared by these notable chefs, including many of this year’s winners and nominees, among them Jose Andres, Saipin Chutima, Tyson Cole, Andy Ricker and Michael Solomonov.

In addition, to celebrate this year’s theme, “The Ultimate Melting Pot,” the James Beard Foundation announced a new scholarship initiative for 2011.  The new initiative, the James Beard Foundation Scholarship for Immigrants in the Kitchen, will award four $5,000 scholarships, fully funded by Food Network, to four aspiring chefs for their culinary education.  A unique feature of this scholarship is that it will be earmarked for students who have immigrated to America from another country.  Since its inception, the Foundation’s Scholarship program has awarded over 3.6 million dollars to deserving culinary students, and is proud to announce a program, with founding support from Food Network, that will recognize the international flavors, ingredients, and recipes that continue to inform and redefine American cuisine.  The winners will be selected in Spring of 2012.

Established in 1990, the James Beard Foundation Awards recognize culinary professionals for excellence and achievement in their fields and continue to emphasize the Foundation’s mission: to celebrate, nurture, and preserve America’s diverse culinary heritage and future.  The annual James Beard Foundation Awards honor the best and the brightest talents in the food and beverage industries, celebrating outstanding achievement in each of the following categories: Restaurant and Chef, Restaurant Design and Graphics, Books, Broadcast Media, Journalism, and 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 program.  All award winners receive a certificate and a bronze medallion engraved with the James Beard Foundation Awards insignia.  There are no cash prizes.

The 2011 James Beard Foundation Awards are presented with support by the following partners: In Association Sponsors: All-Clad Metalcrafters, Groupon; Premier Sponsors: Green & Black’s® Organic Chocolate, Lenox Tableware and Gifts, Mercedes-Benz; Supporting Sponsors: The Coca-Cola Company, Delta Air Lines, Lavazza, Southern Wine & Spirits of New York, Stella Artois; Gala Reception Sponsors: Acqua Panna® Natural Spring Water, Central 24/7 Michel Richard Caesars Palace, Certified Angus Beef®  Brand, Ecolab, Pernod Ricard USA, Restaurant Guy Savoy Caesars Palace, Rums of Puerto Rico, S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water; and with additional support from Chefwear and St. Giles Hotel.

Founded in 1986, the James Beard Foundation is dedicated to celebrating, nurturing, and preserving America’s diverse culinary heritage and future. A cookbook author and teacher with an encyclopedic knowledge about food, James Beard, who died in 1985, was a champion of American cuisine. He helped educate and mentor generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts. Today, the Beard Foundation continues in the same spirit by administering a number of diverse programs that include educational initiatives, food industry awards, scholarships to culinary schools, and publications, and by maintaining the historic James Beard House in New York City’s Greenwich Village as a “performance space” for visiting chefs. For more information, please visit www.jamesbeard.org.  Find insights on food at the James Beard Foundation’s blog Delights & Prejudices. Join the James Beard Foundation on Facebook. Follow the James Beard Foundation on Twitter.