On Friday, May 6, the winners of the James Beard Foundation Book, Broadcast, and Journalism Awards were announced. Last night, however, was the main event: at a black tie gala at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City’s Lincoln Center, the winners for the 2011 James Beard Foundation Awards were announced by co-hosts and fellow renowned chefs Tom Colicchio, Traci Des Jardins, and Ming Tsai.
The first award of the night was the Rising Star Chef of the Year award, which was presented to Gabriel Rucker of Portland’s French-inspired Le Pigeon and Little Bird bistro. This was Rucker’s fourth consecutive nomination for the award, and according to reports he is the first Oregonian chef to win the award.
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Best Chef Regional Awards were given to such chefs as Michael Tusk of San Francisco’s Quince and Gabrielle Hamilton of NYC’s Prune, and there was even a tie between Saipin Chutima’s Lotus of Siam and Tyson Cole’s Uchi for Best Chef in the Southwest. America’s Classic Awards were also handed to historic institutions including Watts Tea Shop in Milwaukee and Le Veau d’Or in New York City. The Humanitarian of the Year Award went to FareStart, a non-profit organization based in Seattle that provides culinary training and job placement to the homeless and disadvantaged.
Rounding out the night were some of the biggest and most coveted awards. Thomas Keller’s Per Se won for Outstanding Service, and wine authority Kevin Zraly won the 2011 James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award. NYC’s Eleven Madison Park won the Outstanding Restaurant Award (its own Angela Pinkerton also won Outstanding Pastry Chef). Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen in NYC won Best New Restaurant, and last of all, José Andrés of D.C.’s minibar won the Outstanding Chef Award.
Check out the James Beard blog for a full run-down of the night’s winners, and we’ll see you at the awards again next year.