Tonight’s James Beard Awards Are The Food World’s Oscars
The James Beard awards might not have registered as an event in the mainstream media a few years back, but thanks to the confluence of social media (making your average Yelp reviewer a foodie) and reality TV, Joe Restaurant Goer feels like as much of a food enthusiast as Joe Film School Dropout feels like an armchair movie critic.
Which is to say, we’re all up in the food world goings-on, and chefs are now celebrities. The James Beard Awards are in honor of America’s first real food personality, a man Julia Child described as one who “loved his work, loved gossip, loved to eat, loved a good time.” Beard is also responsible in no small measure to beginning in America what would become foodie-ism, transforming a country of proudly humble eaters into one that appreciated French cuisine and considered food for reasons other than basic sustenance.
James Beard died in 1985, but his name is invoked often- whenever the merits of mass produced foods are debated, for instance, someone is bound to say “James Beard loved McDonald’s fries.” (It should be noted, however, that the taste of McDonald’s fries is likely to have changed vastly since his death more than 25 years ago.) And the James Beard Awards are not new, as the first occurred in 1990.
“Because we’re located in New York, we’re perceived to be focused on New York chefs, but we’re both national and international… We have chefs cook here from all over, and we hope to highlight the nation’s best at the awards on Monday.”
James Beard Awards nominees for Best Chef in 2012 include The Spotted Pig’s April Bloomfield, WD-50′s Wylie Dufresne, Marea’s Michael White, Del Posto’s Mark Ladner and Gramercy Tavern’s Michael Anthony.