Showing posts with label Beard Awards. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Beard Awards. Show all posts

Monday, November 25, 2019

some thoughts on growing a Beard (Award)

There's been some griping from some quarters – OK, from me, among others – about how Miami has been under-represented in the annual ritual of bestowing James Beard Awards. On one hand, maybe it's silly to pay any attention at all – that argument's been made pretty eloquently very recently by Ghee's Niven Patel, who always has such a good perspective on such things. But the reality is that most chefs like to be recognized for their hard work, and a Beard Award happens to be one recognition that is still regarded as valuable currency by many in the industry and in the dining public.

Much can be questioned about the Beard Awards: that the voting process, standards, and accountability remain rather opaque, that some of the regional categories tend to disproportionately favor certain cities,[1] that the awards tend to go to chefs who have been around the block a few times over fresh new talent, and have historically been predominantly white and male. But that's not my purpose here, and I'll acknowledge that the Foundation has been taking steps to try to address all those issues.

Rather, my purpose is to consider what we, as South Florida diners, can do about it. And here's a simple thing: submit a nomination form. The link is right here – James Beard Foundation - The 2020 James Beard Awards – and anyone can create an account and submit a nomination, up until December 2.

Now, let me immediately make clear that I am not suggesting any sort of balloting campaign for anyone in particular. The awards are not popularity contests and the number of nominations submitted has nothing to do with whether someone is selected. Rather, what I'm suggesting is that if there is someplace or someone that you think is deserving of recognition, you should create an account, make your submission, and maybe most important, explain why you're doing so (each submission has a box for "Why are you recommending this chef/restaurant?").

I do think these are very good times for Miami dining, and that there are many people doing great things who deserve recognition for it. And I'm concerned that one of the reasons that's not as well seen from the national perspective is that there isn't a robust enough discussion of what's happening here. So FWIW, here are my nominations (which will be submitted to the Beard Foundation without pictures, those are just for your entertainment):

Best Chef South

Niven Patel (Ghee, Erba)

Niven Patel’s Ghee is not just a “great Indian restaurant.” It’s not just a “great Miami restaurant.” It’s a GREAT RESTAURANT. Period. If there is one place in Miami that I think would stand out in any city in the U.S., this is it. But at the same time, part of what makes Ghee so special is how closely it’s tied to South Florida - all the way down to sourcing a significant portion of the menu from Niven’s family’s backyard farm in Homestead.

Traditional Indian dishes like bhel puri, pakora, chicken tikka masala and saag paneer serve as inspiration but not a straitjacket, because the menu is equally inspired by South Florida’s local products – the bhel puri is topped with fresh local wahoo, the pakoras feature calabaza or taro leaf Niven grows himself, the tikka masala is enriched with local heirloom tomatoes, the saag paneer uses backyard kale. In season, a whole section of the menu is devoted to “Rancho Patel” local fruits and vegetables. Niven’s taken the farm-to-table ethos of his former alma mater, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink (where he was Chef de Cuisine for 3 years from 2013-2016 under Best Chef South 2010 winner Michael Schwartz) to a new level and introduced it to the vibrant, deep flavors of Indian cuisine. I love the bright flavors, fresh products, and how the menu is always in constant motion, in sync with the seasons.

The three-course family-style tasting menu (which features an assortment of dishes for each “course”) is one of the best $55 meals you will find anywhere. There is not a person I’ve recommended Ghee to or taken there that hasn’t left happy.

(continued ...)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Vote or Die(t)

We've been sticking to the restaurant write-ups for the most part here at FFT, but every once in a while things come up that seem worth passing along. Fresh on the heels of some local recognition in the form of several 2012 James Beard Award semifinalists[1] - Yardbird for Best New Restaurant, Hedy Goldsmith (Michael's Genuine) for Outstanding Pastry Chef, Jarrod Verbiak (DB Bistro Moderne) for Rising Star Chef of the Year, and Clay Conley (Buccan), Paula DaSilva (1500°), Jeff McInnis (Yardbird), and Jose Mendin (Pubbelly) for Best Chef: South - Food & Wine magazine is opening its annual "Best New Chef" listings up to the riff-raff. A hundred chefs from among ten different "regions"[2] are up for selection by popular vote as "The People's Best New Chef."

As one who labors for recognition of the local talent when it's warranted, I encourage you to make your own opinion known. The South Florida candidates are:
You can vote here: Food & Wine People's Best New Chef : Gulf Coast Chefs

While we're at it, a question for you readers. Lately I've focused my energies here on restaurant write-ups, rather than "news," openings, events and the like.[3] Candidly, I figure most everyone that's reading this particular niche publication is already on the same mailing lists as me, and you're either getting the same e-mail blasts or are reading about them somewhere else shortly afterwards. Even if you're not scouring Eater Miami and Short Order yourself, you can always check the "Blogosphere" columns on the right-hand side of FFT and read the same exact fluff stuff that I'm reading. Or, if you're the kind of person who gets all your political news from The Daily Show - like me - you can get your food news in funny and easily digestible weekly doses over at Miami Restaurant Power Rankings.

(continued ...)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Dining List for 2010

In case you were wondering where to eat tomorrow ... the James Beard Foundation restaurant and chef awards were announced tonight. First and foremost, a hearty congratulations to local product Michael Schwartz, who won Best Chef South for his work at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink. It is a well-deserved honor for one of Miami's real gems.

The rest of the winners:
  • Marea (New York City) - Best New Restaurant
  • Tom Colicchio (Craft, NY) - Outstanding Chef Award
  • Nicole Plue (Redd, Yountville CA) - Outstanding Pastry Chef Award
  • Daniel (New York) - Outstanding Restaurant Award
  • Keith McNally (Balthazar, Lucky Strike, Minetta Tavern, Morandi, Pastis, Pravda, Shiller's Liquor Bar, New York City) - Outstanding Restaurateur Award
  • Alinea (Chicago) - Outstanding Service Award
  • John and Doug Shafer (Shafer Vineyards) - Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional Award
  • Jean Georges (New York) - Outstanding Wine Service
  • Timothy Hollingsworth (French Laundry, Yountville CA) - Rising Star Chef of the Year
  • Koren Grieveson (Avec, Chicago) - Best Chef Great Lakes
  • Jeff Michaud (Osteria, Philadephia) - Best Chef Mid-Atlantic
  • Alexander Roberts (Restaurant Alma, Minneapolis) - Best Chef Midwest
  • Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park) - Best Chef New York City
  • Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier (Arrows, Ogunquit, ME) - Best Chef Northeast
  • Jason Wilson (Crush, Seattle) - Best Chef Northwest
  • David Kinch (Manresa, Los Gatos CA) - Best Chef Pacific
  • Michael Schwartz (Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, Miami) - Best Chef South
  • Sean Brock (McCrady's, Charleston SC) - Best Chef Southeast
  • Claude Le Tohic (Joël Robuchon, Las Vegas) - Best Chef Southwest
Not a bad "Where should I go for dinner?" list.

Monday, May 4, 2009

James Beard Journalism Awards Announced

James Beard Award Several weeks ago I listed the nominees in the media and journalism categories for the James Beard Awards, with links to the nominees' writings in Part I, Part II, and Part III here. The winners have now been announced and you can see the list here, so I won't regurgitate it all over again. Just a couple thoughts:

Book awards and chef / restaurant awards are just getting started tonight. Any predictions?

Edited to add: a complete shutout for South Florida tonight in the chef/restaurant awards. Michael Schwartz of Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, Douglas Rodriguez of Ola, Zach Bell of Café Boulud all bypassed for John Currence of City Grocery in Oxford, Mississippi in the Best Chef: South category. Hmph. Go figure.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Reading Material - Part III - James Beard Books

In Part I and Part II, I listed links to the pieces I could find that were nominated for James Beard Media & Journalism Awards. Finally, here's the nominees for the James Beard Book Awards:

Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking: Yiddish Recipes Revisited
Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from The Times-Picayune of New Orleans
Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales from a Southern Cook

BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking with Over 200 Magnificent Recipes
Baking for All Occasions
The Art and Soul of Baking

The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea
The Wines of Burgundy: Revised Edition
WineWise: Your Complete Guide to Understanding, Selecting, and Enjoying Wine

The Big Fat Duck Cookbook
Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide

How to Cook Everything (Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition): 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food
Martha Stewart's Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook
The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh

Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta: Recipes from the World-Famous Spa
The EatingWell for a Healthy Heart Cookbook: 175 Delicious Recipes for Joyful, Heart-Smart Eating (EatingWell Books)
The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life

Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China
Jewish Holiday Cooking: A Food Lovers Treasury of Classics and Improvisations
Southeast Asian Flavors: Adventures in Cooking the Foods of Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, & Singapore

The Big Fat Duck Cookbook
Decadent Desserts: Recipes from Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte
Haute Chinese Cuisine from the Kitchen of Wakiya

Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages
The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs
The Science of Good Food: The Ultimate Reference on How Cooking Works

Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes
Mediterranean Fresh: A Compendium of One-Plate Salad Meals and Mix-and-Match Dressings
The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China
Raising Steaks: The Life and Times of American Beef

And there you have it. Happy reading.

Reading Material - Part II

More links to the James Beard Award nominees for the journalism awards. Part I is here.

Made (Better) In Japan - Alan Richman, GQ
BBQ 08 (The Top 50 BBQ Joints in Texas) - Patricia Sharpe and staff of Texas Monthly Magazine
My Cherry Amour - Monique Truong, Gourmet

Jonathan Gold, LA Weekly - "A Proper Brasserie," "A Fine Palate," "Pho Town"
Adam Platt, New York Magazine - "Faux French," "The Mario of Midtown," "Corton on Hudson"
Tom Sietsema, Washington Post - "Great Expectations," "Robo Restaurant," "An Earned Exclamation"

Greens of Wrath - Barry Estabrook, Gourmet
What Good is Breakfast? - New York Magazine
How to Feed Your Mind - Rachael Moeller Gorman, EatingWell

BA Foodist - Andrew Knowlton,
Hunter Angler Gardener Cook - Hank Shaw,
Our One-Block Diet -

Dorie Greenspan, Bon Appetit - "Bacon-Cheddar Quick Bread," "All-Purpose Holiday Cake," "My Go-To Dough"
Corby Kummer, The Atlantic - "A Papaya Grows in Holyoke," "Beyond the McIntosh," "Half a Loaf"
Laura Shapiro, - "Campaign Cookies," "Why Does America Hate Ratatouille?," "The Lord is my Chef"

Revolution by the Glass - Jon Bonné, San Francisco Chronicle
Billionaire Winos - Jay McInerney, Men's Vogue
Viva La Revolucion! - Alan Richman, GQ


Gourmet Cookbook Club - Ruth Reichl,
The Test Kitchen - Ruth Reichl,
The Whole Hog Project - Mike Sula,

Knead, Pray, Love - Celia Barbour, O, The Oprah Magazine
Benedictions - Aleksandra Crapanzano, Gourmet
My Sweet Life - Alan Richman, GQ

If I can summon the energy at some point, there's also Book Awards too ...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Reading Material - Part I

In my last post I mentioned the local chefs still in contention for one of the James Beard awards. In addition to the chef and restaurant awards, there's a whole panoply of various media and journalism award nominations. I started rooting around to see how many of the nominated pieces are available online and thought I'd share the links for this extended reading list. I doubt I'll ever plow through all of them, but some that I'd already come across - like the piece on Schwa chef Michael Carlson - are excellent.

Some I can not turn up at all, some may be limited access, and I'll be doing this in at least two installments. Again, the whole list of nominees is here.

Obsessives: School Lunch Revolutionary -
The Art of Blending -
Savoring the Best of World Flavors, Volume III: Vietnam and the Island of Sicily -

Big Night. Big Mystery: Why Did Michael Carlson Vanish the Day After Serving Dinner to the Greatest Chefs in the World? - Monica Eng, Phil Vettel, Chicago Tribune
Sushi Bullies - Katy McLaughlin, Wall Street Journal
Sound Check - Tom Sietsema, Washington Post

Morality Bites: Mustering Some Sympathy for the Bedeviled Ham and Beef - Monica Eng, Chicago Tribune
The Pope of Pork - Kristen Hinman, Riverfront Times
The Tender and the Tough - Craig LaBan, Philadelphia Inquirer

High on the Hairy Hogs: Super-Succulent Imports are Everything U.S. Pork Isn't - Rebekah Denn, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Perfection? Hint: It's Warm and Has a Secret - David Leite, New York Times

Chicago Tribune - Carol Mighton Haddix
San Francisco Chronicle - Jon Bonné and Mirlam Morgan
Washington Post - Joe Yonan

Eating Small in New York - Alan Richman, Departures
The Grilling Genius of Spain - Anya von Bremzen, Food & Wine

What is Southern? - Edna Lewis, Gourmet
The Wild Salmon Debate: A Fresh Look at Whether Eating Farmed Salmon is ... Well ... OK - David Dobbs, EatingWell

More to follow.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Beards Shaved

I posted earlier with the local slant on the James Beard Award semifinalists. The actual nominations were announced today. South Florida products still in contention (all for Best Chef South):

- Zach Bell of Cafe Boulud in Palm Beach;
- Douglas Rodriguez of Ola in South Beach; and
- Michael Schwartz of Michael's Genuine Food & Drink in Miami's Design District.

Also on the Best Chef South list - John Currence of City Grocery in Oxford, MS and John Harris of Lilette in New Orleans.

Out of the running? Sra. Martinez for Best New Restaurant (and let it be noted, in my original post I nailed all five of the finalists for this category!); Palme d'Or for Best Service and Best Wine Service; Dean James Max of 3030 Ocean and Edgar Leal of Cacao in the Best Chef South category.
Michael Schwartz and a chicken
I'm thinking a Beard is in store for Michael - though as you can see, he's already got one (and a chicken too).*

The whole list is here.

*Picture via, though I don't think it's originally theirs either.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Locals Growing Beards?

Beard Award
My James Beard Cookbook is probably among the most tattered and splattered in my kitchen. For a long time, it served as my initial reference point for basic cooking - how best to cook a burger or a steak, what to do with green beans, and so on. His meatloaf recipe remains one of our favorites. Though a few years ago, the Foundation that bears his name nearly collapsed under a scandal over misuse of funds, it seems that they've done a good job of setting things right since, and their annual restaurant awards and nominations are always interesting to peruse. I referred briefly in another post to a local nominee for one of the regional James Beard Awards. Here is a complete list of the local products who are semifinalists:

Best New Restaurant (National) - Michelle Bernstein with Sra. Martinez. She's up against some tough competition, though, with Jose Andres' new leviathan, The Bazaar, Paul Liebrandt's Corton, David Chang's Momofuku Ko, Scott Conant's Scarpetta, and Laurent Gras' L20, among several others, all in the mix.

Outstanding Wine Service (National) - Palme d'Or in Coral Gables, and California Grill in Disney World's Contemporary Resort (OK, calling that "local" is a stretch, but I've included it mostly just because of the "Who knew?" reaction I had).

Outstanding Service (National) - Palme d'Or again. Anyone surprised there's not any South Beach nominees?

Best Chef (South) - Zach Bell of Cafe Boulud in Palm Beach, Edgar Leal of Cacao in Coral Gables, Dean James Max of 3030 Ocean in Fort Lauderdale, Douglas Rodriguez of Ola in Miami Beach, Philippe Ruiz of Palme d'Or in Coral Gables (yet again!), and Michael Schwartz of Michael's Genuine Food & Drink in Miami.


  • Palme d'Or? Three nominations? I'm not sure I even know anyone who's been. Guess I ought to try it.

  • What would the oddsmakers say of MGF&D's chances for "Best Chef (South)"?

  • If you're wondering why local darling Michelle Bernstein isn't among the nominees for "Best Chef (South)" category - she won the award last year.

  • Not a single Florida nominee for the "Rising Star Chef of the Year" category - what to make of that?