2015 James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award: Richard Melman

The Lifetime Achievement award is given to an individual whose lifetime body of work has had a positive and long-lasting impact on the way we eat, cook, and/or think about food in America.


Restaurateur Richard Melman has always given his three children the same advice: find something you’re truly passionate about and then work diligently at it. “It’s hard when you do things just for money,” he says. Especially, he notes, if you work in restaurants. “The restaurant business is too difficult if you’re not in love with it.”


Melman would know better than almost anyone. The founder and chairman of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, he currently oversees more than 100 restaurants nationwide. But even though he got his start in the business early, helping out in his family’s eatery as a child and working at a soda fountain as a teenager, Melman wasn’t always convinced that the restaurant life was for him.


“I backed into the industry,” he says. “I was a horrible student; I quit college... Read more >

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Winner Recap!


Best Chef: Northeast: Barry Maiden, Hungry Mother, Cambridge, MA


Best Chef: Midwest: Gerard Craft, Niche, Clayton, MO


Outstanding Baker: Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery, NYC


Rising Star Chef of the Year: Jessica Largey, Manresa, Los Gatos, CA

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2015 America's Classics: Sally Bell’s Kitchen


Sally Bell’s Kitchen

708 West Grace Street, Richmond, VA

Owners: Martha Crowe Jones And Scott Jones


Sarah Cabell Jones met Elizabeth Lee Milton at the Richmond Exchange for Woman’s Work. Founded in 1883, the Richmond Exchange sold handmade goods produced by women. Jones and Milton opened Sally Bell’s Kitchen (then called Sarah Lee Kitchen) in 1924. By 1985 Martha Crowe Jones, the fourth-generation family proprietor, had taken the reins. Each generation of Jones women has proved a faithful steward of this beacon of female entrepreneurship. Sally Bell’s is a take-away operation. Step to the counter and order a chicken salad or egg salad sandwich, among other options. The counterwoman will hand you a white pasteboard box, tied with twine. Inside, along with your order, will be a paper cup of potato salad or macaroni salad, a deviled egg wrapped in tissue, a cheese wafer crowned with a pecan, and a cupcake enrobed in glaze. All will taste... Read more >

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Interview with Chris Gould of Central Provisions, Nominated for Best New Restaurant

Photo: Meredith Purdue


It's hard to get more local than Portland, Maine's Central Provisions: the kitchen sources ingredients from regional farmers, foragers, and fishmongers, and the entire restaurant was built and decorated by Maine craftsman. We spoke with chef/co-owner Chris Gould (whose wife, Paige Gould, manages the front of house) to explore how the seasonal restaurant has handled acclaim, the challenges of a Maine winter, and Portland's burgeoning dining scene.




JBF: You’ve both worked in restaurants for many years. What experiences have each of you brought to the table?


CG: Attention to detail is the biggest thing. It’s something you only can develop through years of work.

JBF: The menu and space feature lots of products and details from Maine-based craftsmen. Can you talk about how local artisans are expressed in the food and... Read more >

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Interview with Ludo Lefebvre of Best New Restaurant Nominee Petit Trois

Petit Trois is a 2015 Best New Restaurant Nominee


It's tempting to refer to Ludo Lefebvre's ​Petit Trois as the little sister to his Trois Mec, but this Hollywood spot is a fully formed homage to Parisian bistro culture, from the space's feel-good, lively ambiance to the kitchen's technically precise omelette. Read on for Lefebvre's insights on his 2015 Best New Restaurant nominee. 




JBF: What made you want to open this restaurant? Had you been wanting to do a bistro? It’s a familiar concept—what details did you particularly care about getting right?


LL: I really wanted to do a restaurant with classic French food. I miss that a lot, as well as the ambiance. I wanted a little bistro where you know everybody and where you feel like you're in Paris, where life is happening, where there's magic, where there's good energy. No tables, just counters.The food is... Read more >

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Awards Prep: How to Tie a Bow Tie with Alton Brown


The red carpet's rolled out, the Champagne flutes are polished, and the meticulous food prep is underway. We're ready for you! But are you ready for us? The gowns and tuxedos may have already been selected, but what about the accessories? Gentlemen, don't get yourself in a twist: we've got you covered.


James Beard isn't the only culinary icon who has famously approved of the bow tie as a fashion statement (he often topped off his large, patterned suits with his most beloved accessory). Television personality and our 2015 James Beard Awards master of ceremonies Alton Brown can often be found sporting one—and, apparently, not... Read more >

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Interview with Rajat Parr, Nominated for Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional


Vintner and sommelier Rajat Parr can point to the exact vineyard and vintage of wine that changed his life, setting him on the path toward his nomination for this year's James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional. We spoke with him about that seminal sip and his current adventures in winemaking.




JBF: You've had a multi-faceted career in wine: the wine director for a restaurant group, part owner in a wine bar, and winemaker. How do you balance it all?


Rajat Parr: I am a full-time winemaker now. We have two vineyards: Domaine de la Cote in Santa Barbara and Seven Springs in Oregon. I oversee the wine programs within the Mina Group, but do not work on daily operations. The same is for [the San Francisco wine bar and restaurant] RN74. We have a great team that makes sure the restaurants are successful. I live in Santa Barbara now. It's quite a change, but after working in restaurants for 18 years, it's a good change.

 ... Read more >

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Interview with Gavin Kaysen of Spoon and Stable, Nominated for Best New Restaurant

Photo c/o Spoon and Stable


After JBF Award winner Gavin Kaysen left his post at Café Boulud to return to his roots in Minneapolis, the long-missed-local received a hero’s welcome, and Twin Cities residents are now flocking to Kayen's Spoon and Stable, a 2015 Best New Restaurant nominee. We spoke with him about his homecoming, his penchant for pilfering flatware, and his vision of Heartland cuisine.




JBF: Your restaurant is called Spoon and Stable. What’s the story behind the name?


Gavin Kaysen: The building we took over was a horse stable that was built in 1906, so the stable part comes from that. The spoon part comes from something I’ve been doing for years, which is "collecting" spoons from places all over the world. They come from places that have inspired me, perhaps while eating dinner, or working there. We now sell spoons at... Read more >

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Sponsored Post: Let Enjoy Illinois Be Your Chicago Concierge

The dining room of Best New Restaurant nominee Parachute


If you're visiting Chicago and love food, you know the city's Beard Award winners and latest crop of nominees are sure bets for top-notch dining. But the offerings don't end there.


The official Enjoy Illinois blog, published by the Illinois Office of Tourism, is a one-stop guide to restaurants, museums, historical sites, and more in Chicago. Head over there now for a roundup of where to eat during JBFA weekend. We also love their inspired Instagram Challenges, with themes like "... Read more >

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Sponsored Happy Hour: The BACARDÍ Gran Reserva Old Cuban

BACARDÍ Brand Ambassador Juan Coronado


The Italian tradition of serving a pre-dinner cocktail, or aperitif, dates back to ancient Rome. But like many imbibers, I want that experience to last longer.


Thanks to the care and pride that restaurants are putting into their beverage programs, we can now enjoy cocktails throughout an entire meal. When made correctly, cocktails can be extremely food-friendly, and can pair with any style of cuisine. However, some spirits are more versatile than others.


Mixologists prize rum for its incredible flexibility. The spirit ranges from light and dry to rich and aged, and can be flavored or spiced. This diversity allows for a broader spectrum of cocktails that can be mixed with infinite ingredients to fully complement a culinary experience.


 ... Read more >

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JBF Kitchen Cam