Scenes From the James Beard Awards

Highlights from the food world's biggest night.

By: Cynthia Hacinli

Moments from the Awards Ceremony (Which Started 1/2 Hour Late)

An emphatic Michel Richard (Citronelle) on winning the Outstanding Chef award: “For so many years I’ve been nominated, and I’ve been waiting and waiting,” he said. “We have it!” he grinned, holding up the medal to his wife in the audience. “Now it’s time for me to have a lot of Champagne!” Richard was indeed spotted later drinking bubbly--and lots of it.

Earlier, Richard had escorted Citronelle wine director Mark Slater up to the stage to accept the Outstanding Wine Service award. Richard placed the medal over Slater’s head with a flourish and planted a big one on his cheek...

...A clearly moved RJ Cooper (Vidalia), who tied with Palena’s Frank Ruta for the Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic prize, thanked his wife and Vidalia owners Jeff and Sallie Buben, then tipped his hat to his staff: “For all the kids in the restaurant, this is for them.”...

 

...Local restaurateur Jose Andres, who’d been spotted prepping for his speech outside the auditorium, ran down the aisle to be inducted into the Who’s Who of American Food and Beverage. In introducing him, Wolfgang Puck alluded to Andres’s newest restaurant in LA, which Andres later called an “exciting project with Phillipe Starck.”...

...Puck had the best line of the evening. After ceremony emcee (and CBS Early Show anchor) Hannah Storm waxed enthusiastic about the food-related oldies (eg., “American Pie”) playing during the show, Puck deadpanned, “A little Pink Floyd would be better."...

 

...Georgetown Prep grad David Chang, who now runs Momofuku Noodle Bar in the East Village, was the winner of Rising Star Chef of the Year award. He high-fived and shook hands with pals along the walk to the stage.“We’re honored for everyone at the restaurant," he said, smiling from ear-to-ear, dimples showing, "This is a team effort.”  

...Mollie Katzen, inducted into the Cookbook Hall of Fame for her handwritten classic the Moosewood Cookbook laughed, “If I had known that people who weren’t my friends would buy it, I would have typed it up.”...

Moments From the After Party

The glam quotient was up with the gala’s new venue, the Avery Fisher Hall, which had a real live red carpet. But the layout of the place (two levels with outdoor space, as opposed to one large room) made it harder to mingle. Still, we managed to spot a few more Washingtonians, such as Restaurant Eve owners Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong (he was nominated for Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic), Maestro chef Fabio Trabocchi and  general manager Emanuele Fissore,  former Washington Post food critic Phyllis Richman, cookbook writer Joan Nathan, food marketing consultant Karen Cathey, teacher Gail Forman, and publicist Linda Roth...

...We caught the always-nattily attired Aquavit chef Marcus Samuelsson posing for pics with his model-esque girlfriend (he’d chivalrously doffed his jacket to put around her chilly shoulders). Samuelsson, who’d just won the International Cookbook award for The Soul of a New Cuisine, gushed: “I’m super, super, super excited!...I want to tell everyone that your next food trip, make it to Africa.”...

 

Oh Yeah, the Food...

Katsuya Fukushima and Ruben Garcia, who both work under Jose Andres, swirled sticks of foie gras in cotton candy. Photograph by Michael Harlan Turkell.
At the party, Jose Andres's team served minibar’s signature cotton candy lollipops, along with pea-sized globules of vinaigrette he called “salad dressing without the salad,” and Fabio Trabocchi dished out veal cheeks with osso buco jus and Alba hazelnuts. My favorite eats? New York chef Aaron Sanchez’s (Paladar, Centrico) lump crabmeat tostadas with avocado and chipotle-lime aioli; Marcus Samuelsson’s herring potato salad; Daniel chef Jean-Francois Bruel’s tasting of four terrines (duck a l’orange; guinea hen with Jack Daniels; rabbit porchetta; and pressed foie gras with four-spiced turnips); and A Voce pastry chef April Robinson’s chocolate diablo panna cotta with amarena cherries and cocoa nibs.