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James Beard Foundation Announces 6 Food & Drink Honorees

Food and Drink Honorees Celebrated by James Beard Foundation
Food and Drink Honorees Celebrated by James Beard FoundationJBF

Today, the James Beard Foundation (JBF) announced the six 2014 inductees to the Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America highlighting their passion and leadership to local, homegrown food.

According to the JBF, its “prestigious award is given to renowned culinary professionals who have made a significant and unique contribution to the American food and beverage industry.”

This year’s Who’s Who honorees will be celebrated at the annual James Beard Foundation Awards, the Oscars of the culinary industry, May 5, 2014, at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater in New York City where this Examiner is on the red carpet, in the theater and behind the scenes, every year, covering all the food and drink news.

Did you hear who is hosting this year's JBF Awards?

Think orange crocs. Yes, Superstar chef Mario Batali - along with the perennial foodie favorite Tim Allen, "Chopped" Foodstar, and cookbook author.

“We are delighted to honor six more distinguished leaders with our Foundation’s Who’s Who Awards,” said Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation. “These four influential chefs and two talented journalists represent the best of the best in our culinary world. They join a prestigious group of over 200 people who have made a significant impact in how Americans think about food.”

This year’s Honorees are a clutch of inspired pioneers who advocate for the local, regional, honest food that celebrates the unique taste and flavor of mise en place and the dedicated food artisans and culinary artisans who work so very hard to showcase the best of their food network.

The 2014 James Beard Foundation Awards Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America Inductees are:

Edward Behr, Food writer, Vermont

Edward Behr is editor and publisher of the quarterly food magazine, The Art of Eating. First published as an eight-page newsletter in 1986, it has grown to become one of the most respected magazines about food and wine. Behr’s writing and magazine focus on taste and tradition. The Art of Eating was a pioneer in stressing the important connection between taste and place. Behr has written about many of the best farmers and food artisans in France, Italy, and the United States. He is the author of The Artful Eater (1992, revised edition, 2004), The Art of Eating Cookbook: Recipes from the First 25 Years (2011) and 50 Foods: The Essentials of Good Taste (2013). His article, “The Lost Taste of Pork,” when it appeared in the magazine in 1999, caused Steve Ells, founder of the Chipotle fast food chain, to turn from conventional to humanely raised pork, creating one of the first major markets for farmers who raise decent, delicious pork. Behr speaks internationally on food and culture.

John Besh, Chef and Restaurateur, New Orleans, LA

John Besh is a chef and native son dedicated to the culinary riches of southern Louisiana. Besh has nine restaurants including his flagship restaurant, August, which merges Besh’s classic French culinary training with Southern roots. In his restaurants, entrepreneurial pursuits, and public activities, Besh preserves and promotes ingredients, techniques, and a regional, homegrown heritage. In 2009, Besh published his first cookbook titled My New Orleans, a celebration of the culture and cuisine Besh loves. Two additional titles, My Family Table, and Cooking From The Heart, also celebrate Besh’s passion for his Southern roots. He hosts two national public television cooking shows based on the books. The John Besh Foundation, founded in 2011, works to preserve New Orleans’ culinary heritage via initiatives such as the Chefs Move! culinary school scholarship and microloans for local farmers. In 2006, he won the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef Southeast and is also the recipient of Food & Wine’s Top 10 Best New Chefs in America.

David Chang, Momofuku Restaurant Group, NYC

David Chang is the chef and founder of Momofuku, which includes restaurants in New York City, Sydney, and Toronto. Momofuku originated in New York City, which is now home to Momofuku Noodle Bar, Momofuku Ssäm Bar, Momofuku Ko, Momofuku Milk Bar, Momofuku Má Pêche, and Booker and Dax at Ssäm. Chang opened Momofuku Seiōbo, his first restaurant outside of New York City, at The Star in Sydney in October 2011. In 2012, he opened Momofuku Toronto in the heart of downtown Toronto with five distinct concepts in one building: Noodle Bar Toronto, Nikai, Milk Bar Toronto, Daishō and Shōtō. Chang's first cookbook, Momofuku, a New York Times best seller, came out in the fall of 2009, the same year Momofuku Ko was awarded 2 Michelin stars. His quarterly print journal with Peter Meehan and Chris Ying called Lucky Peach launched in the summer of 2011. In the fall of 2012, Chang was the first chef to be featured on the PBS television show The Mind of a Chef.

Barry Estabrook, Writer, Vermont

Estabrook’s food career includes being a contributing editor for Gourmet magazine and serving on the advisory board of Gastronomica, The Journal of Food and Culture. He currently writes for The New York Times, The Washington Post, TheAtlantic.com, MarkBittman.com, Saveur, and Men’s Health. In 2011, Estabrook wrote the influential book, Tomatoland, which exposed how industrial agriculture has ruined the tomato in all ways–gastronomic, environmental, and in terms of labor abuse.

Paul Kahan, Executive Chef and Partner, Chicago

Probably since the untimely passing of Chef Charlie Trotter, Paul Kahan has assumed the mantle as the Second City’s most recognizable face of Chicago chefs. Passionately seasonal, unconventionally creative, and dedicated to the inspiration of classical cuisine, Kahan has received international acclaim for Blackbird, avec, The Publican, Big Star, Publican Quality Meats, and most recently Nico Osteria. Awarded Outstanding Chef by the James Beard Foundation in 2013 and Best Chef: Midwest in 2004, Kahan has earned the praise of many who claim him to be one of America’s most influential working chefs. A Chicagoan through and through, Kahan grew up around food. His father owned a delicatessen and a smokehouse, and “when I wanted to make a buck,” says Kahan. “I would help my dad take the fish out of the brine, hang them on the racks, and wheel them into the smokehouse.”

Who doesn’t love that homegrown pedigree?

Sherry Yard, Pastry Chef, Cookbook Author

Renowned chef Sherry Yard earned the praise of her critics and peers with multiple accolades awarded throughout her career including two James Beard Awards for Outstanding Pastry Chef of the Year and Best Baking Book for her cookbook debut The Secrets of Baking. Yard served as Executive Pastry Chef at Wolfgang Puck's empire for nearly 20 years where her role encompassed a range of responsibilities from crafting masterful breads, creating menus, opening new restaurants while mentoring a generation of pastry chefs in kitchens from Singapore to Santa Monica. In 2014 Yard will revive the iconic Helms Bakery, a Los Angeles landmark that will feature a dinette for breakfast and lunch, a dedicated bakery, and a retail section of specialty products. Yard serves on the board of numerous philanthropic organizations and is a driving force of the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP).

The James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America is a cadre of the most accomplished food and beverage professionals in the country. Though they represent a diverse cross-section of the food and beverage industry—from chefs to journalists to farmers to business executives to scholars—each has been identified by his or her peers as having displayed remarkable talent and achievement.

The Who’s Who award launched in 1984 by Cook’s Magazine; with the hand off to JBF in 1990.