The most-awaited event on the culinary calendar is once again in view. The James Beard Foundation Awards will be celebrating the finest achievements in the culinary arts with two events, on May 3rd and May 6th. The awards on Friday, May 3rd at Gotham Hall (1356 Broadway at 36th Street) honor writers, journalists, graphic artists, restaurant designers, broadcasters, and people in broadcast media in more than 30 categories related to the culinary arts, and will begin with a cocktail reception at 6:00 PM to be followed by a catered dinner coinciding with the Awards program beginning at 7:00 PM. The host of the affair will be Ted Allen, a 2012 James Beard Award winner, and further details regarding information about the event and tickets can be had by calling (914) 231-6180.

Of course, the Friday program is always something of an amuse-bouche before the Gala black-tie event on Monday, May 6th, which devotes an evening to honoring chefs and restaurants all over the country, and will once again take place at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, at Columbus Avenue & West 65th Street.

Although to many folks the James Beard Foundation is primarily associated with the annual Awards, the Gala, which brings together in one place chefs and culinary professionals from all over America, it is in fact a benefit event that supports the many initiatives the Foundation stages throughout the calendar year in its mission to “educate, inspire, entertain, and foster a deeper understanding of our culinary culture” in America, including an annual national food conference, a Leadership Awards program, culinary scholarships, and publications – in addition to over 250 events staged annually by the Foundation in the Greenwich Village Townhouse where Beard lived.

The Gala Awards will be hosted by Oliver Platt (originally announced host Stanley Tucci had a work commitment conflict), and are broken down into categories honoring achievement in wines, spirits, pastries and service; superlative restaurants in 10 geographical regions; general categories such as Best Chef, Best New Restaurant, and Rising Chef of the Year; in addition to Awards for career achievement.

Nominated for Best New Restaurant are Empellón Cocina in New York City, Grace (Chicago), The Ordinary (Charleston, SC), Rich Table (San Francisco) and State Bird Provisions (also San Francisco). Competing for Outstanding Chef are Sean Brock of McCrady’s, (Charleston, SC), David Chang of Momofuku Noodle Bar (NYC), Gary Danko of Restaurant Gary Danko (San Francisco), Suzanne Goin of Lucques (West Hollywood, CA), Paul Kahan of Blackbird (Chicago) and Nancy Silverton of Pizzeria Mozza (Los Angeles). Up for Outstanding Restaurant Award are August (New Orleans), Blue Hill (NYC), Highlands Bar and Grill (Birmingham), The Slanted Door (San Francisco) and Spiaggia (Chicago). Of interest to New Yorkers, the Best Chef for the city will be selected from April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig, Wylie Dufresne of wd-50, Mark Ladner of Del Posto, Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto, and Michael White of Marea. A full list of nominess can be found here: http://www.jamesbeard.org/sites/default/files/static/additional/2013-jbf-nominees.pdf

Tickets are $425 for James Beard Foundation Members, $475 for the General Public, with VIP Tickets going for $1500 and VIP Tables (of 10 seats) for $15,000. Call the Box Office at (914) 231-6180 (Office Hours are 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday) for purchase, and further information can be found here: http://www.jamesbeard.org/awards/tickets

There is always a theme for the evening, and for 2013 it draws overtly upon the notion that The James Beard Foundation Awards have long been referred to as the “Oscars of Food” – hence the motif of “Lights! Camera! Taste! Spotlight on Food & Film” will extend to the illustrious chefs who co-cater the post-Awards feast using various notable films as inspiration for their culinary creations for the night. Many of these chefs for the Gala are previous JBF Award winners, and include Grant Achatz, Nate Appleman, Jean-François Bruel, Traci des Jardin, Todd English, Gavin Kaysen, Sarah Kosikowski and Derek Poirier, Christopher Lee, Frank Maldonado, Thomas McNaughton, Michael Mina, David Myers, Melissa Perello, Nicole Plue, Douglas Rodriguez, Gabriel Rucker, Marcus Samuelsson, Aarón Sánchez,?Mindy Segal, John Suley, Christina Tosi, Allison Vines-Rushing and Slade Rushing. A full accounting of the what exactly the chefs will be preparing, including what films have inspired them, can be seen by clicking this link: http://www.jamesbeard.org/awards/event-details#menu


While the James Beard Foundation Awards annually collect the best chefs from all over America and unite them in honoring their peers in New York, the James Beard Foundation has just announced a program that will in effect do something like the opposite – by sending America’s best chefs on the road in an epicurean tour of 10 cities all over the US. The partnership with Chase Sapphire Preferred® Visa Signature® is called The James Beard Foundation’s Taste America®: “Local Flavor from Coast To Coast” tour. It will run from September 20th through October 19th, and the five weekend Taste America tour will be showcasing culinary stars and presenting public events exploring the nation’s vast range of local cuisines, and will journey to Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.

The program kicks off at the James Beard House itself, with legendary Jacques Pépin preparing an invite-only feast of gourmet burgers; Taste America All-Star Chefs will also include Rick Bayless, John Besh, Richard Blais, Sean Brock, Suzanne Goin, Carla Hall and Daniel Patterson. As part of the tour there will be in-store events at Sur La Table featuring celebrity chefs, with cooking demos, book signings, and tastings from local producers and artisans. There will also be A Taste America vehicle that will be touring local culinary-related venues (green markets, shopping malls and the like) where family activities aimed at promoting regional foods and healthy eating habits will be highlighted. Tickets for The James Beard Foundation’s Taste America®: “Local Flavor from Coast To Coast” will be on sale to the public on Monday, July 8th at www.jbftasteamerica.org.