James Beard Awards – The Fuzzy End of the Lollipop
ELV® recently completed his final ballot for the 2013 James Beard Foundation Awards.
In case you’re interested, his ballot looked like this:
|Judge: Curtas John|
|BEST NEW RESTAURANT:||The Ordinary, Charleston, SC|
|OUTSTANDING BAR PROGRAM:||The Aviary, Chicago, IL|
|OUTSTANDING CHEF:||Gary Danko, Restaurant Gary Danko, San Francisco, CA|
|OUTSTANDING RESTAURANT:||Spiaggia, Chicago, IL|
|OUTSTANDING RESTAURATEUR:||Piero Selvaggio, Valentino Restaurant Group (Valentino, Vin Bar), Los Angeles, CA|
|OUTSTANDING SERVICE:||Del Posto, New York, NY|
|OUTSTANDING WINE PROGRAM:||Picasso, Las Vegas, NV|
|OUTSTANDING WINE & SPIRITS PROFESSIONAL:||Neal Rosenthal, Rosenthal Wine Merchant, New York, NY|
|BEST CHEF: GREAT LAKES:||Stephanie Izard, Girl & the Goat, Chicago, IL|
|BEST CHEF: MID-ATLANTIC:||Brad Spence, Amis, Philadelphia, PA|
|BEST CHEF: NEW YORK CITY:||! Wylie Dufresne, wd~50|
|BEST CHEF: NORTHEAST:||Jamie Bissonnette, Coppa, Boston, MA|
|BEST CHEF: NORTHWEST:||Gabriel Rucker, Le Pigeon, Portland, OR|
|BEST CHEF: SOUTH:||Tory McPhail, Commander’s Palace, New Orleans, LA|
|BEST CHEF: SOUTHEAST:||Edward Lee, 610 Magnolia, Louisville, KY|
Because he doesn’t work for a great metropolitan newspaper, he will probably never be invited to be on the final nominating committee, but he is an official “judge” and judges do get to nominate and lobby for the restaurants and chefs they* think are deserving…as well as vote for the final winners.
This year he nominated Julian Serrano for Chef of the Year, Mitsuo Endo for Best Chef West, Nicole Grimes of Rao’s for Rising Star Chef, and Raku for Best Restaurant West. He also nominated Sirio Maccioni for Best Restaurateur (like he’s done every year for the past six), Picasso for Outstanding Wine Program (like he’s done for the past five) and Kamel Guechida of Robuchon for Outstanding Pastry Chef (ditto).
Needless to say, he wasn’t surprised that only Picasso (for its wine program – which should’ve won years ago) and Piero Selvaggio (of Valentino fame) slipped through the biases of the regular JBF Committe and voters to make it to the final ballot.
He also wasn’t surprised that none of our restaurants or chefs made it to the final ballot in the regional competition, because now that Las Vegas is part of the West region, we are competing with California and only California** for exposure and votes. Because of this, to put it simply, Las Vegas will now be relegated to getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop every year.
This means the days of our chefs (like Luciano Pellegrini, Saipin Chutima and Claude Le Tohic) winning a JBF regional award are ovah. Deader than Julius Caesar…as we now have to compete with the twin biases held against us by California and New York food snobs plus the plain fact that any notable California joint is going to be serving many more JBF voters than any Vegas one.
In a teeny tiny personal protest, he did not vote for any of the California nominees this year (in the semi-final voting voters can vote for multiple nominees). Maybe after this article, he won’t be voting at all. But that would be a shame, because ELV truly understands all sides of this teeny tiny controversy — unlike some of our more jingoistic writers, p.r. and restaurant people — and even agrees with some of the criticisms the east and west coast food snobs have of our top-down restaurant scene (to wit: if all you do is execute another chef’s food, with the financial support of a huge casino, it’s hard to award you personal excellence in the culinary arts).
Regardless, our inclusion with California in the West region*** means there won’t be any JBF awards headed our way anytime soon, which is a crying shame, because Serrano and Endo really deserve one.
* approximately 400 food writers from around the country….many of whom live in New York, the Northeast and California.
** “California is not the West. It is west of the West.” – Theodore Roosevelt
*** see above