"We're going to cook, dine, and eat our way out of these tough times." Host Susan Ungaro, president of JBF, said those words, and I wish Obama were at the JBF Awards tonight to hear that advice. Though cooking, and especially baking, can be frustrating, and bordering on failure, at times (I'm specifically thinking of the frequent fire alarms of my childhood signaling the fact that my mom was preparing dinner and the acrid smell of smoke during mealtime), cooking can also help solve a number of our nation's problems, from promoting good nutrition to staunch the rising cost of health care to breaking our nation's cycle of consumption by spending more time cooking at home.
Q: Who is the hottest woman in food?
A: Martha Stewart.
Q: Of all time?
A: Yes, of all time!
I hadn't heard of Seattle-based chef Maria Hines, but she made a great
entrance. She was out cooking for the event and came running in to
accept her Best Chef: Northwest award in the nick of time. When she did
make it to the stage she thanked her wife for allowing her to put a
lien on the house to open the restaurant. It was adorable and showed
how truly hardworking chefs really are.
The black-tied chefs here tonight who toil in fine dining kitchens have no doubt earned the honors they receive, but there's a special place in everyone's heart for the winners of the America's Classics. These local eateries are fixtures in their communities. They are the places you want to eat should you find yourself in the neighborhood. Most have been around for generations. And they serve the sort of down-home, delicious food that James Beard loved. Here is a complete list
of the more than 60 recipients who have received this special award.
But they've been setting up since this afternoon.
Jamie Leeds---the chef of Hank's Oyster Bar and Commonwealth Gastropub in Washington, D.C.---has three restaurants. She did it in five years. Women need to talk about money: how did you finance your restaurants? Leeds cashed out her 401k and mortgaged her house! Advice to the young: follow your dream even if you have to buy secondhand plates!
Be sure to check our twitter feed (on the right side of your screen) to see the winners as they're announced!
A crowded press room. People in black tie watching the awards on TV. There is a palpable need for strong martinis. We're in luck. Sort of. The lovely Charlotte Voisey, William Grant & Sons mixologist, has a plan to save us all from our worst instincts. Tonight at the Hendricks Gin Bar she's serving thematically correct Reverse Martinis. "This was Julia Childs's favorite cocktail---very sophisticated and Julia knew best that too much ethanol before dinner killed your palate. Instead of 5-to-1 gin to vermouth, she drank 5-to-1 vermouth to gin." For tonight's VIP dinner, Voisey is swapping Lillet for vermouth. "It seemed right that we pay tribute to Julia with this drink." Fitting and probably saving VIP from standing for Very Inebriated Press.
I asked 22 year-old CIA graduate Nicole whether it's still harder for women in the kitchen. She says women still have to work twice as hard. Her boss, Maria Hines of Tilth (who works for love and finances her own restaurant), tells women to stand their ground and become chefs!
Aldo Sohm is adorable and entirely self deprecating. He just won for Outstanding Wine Service. Now they are opening old wounds and Ted Allen is recapping last night's award ceremonies (I lost in the webcast category and CHOW lost in the website category), which has me already looking forward to next year.