Beard Awards: The Oscars Of Cooking

HAPPY EATER

May 10, 1992|By ROB KASPER

New York -- It was one part schmoozing, one part ceremony and one part dinner.

It was the Second Annual James Beard Awards, the Academy Awards of cooking. As someone who stayed up all night to watch the Oscars on television, and somebody who got gussied-up to go to the Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall for the Beard Awards, I recognized some similarities between the two events.

Both had a crush of prettied-up people. In New York there was so much hugging going on during the cocktail hour that I got glitter all over my tuxedo. It had rubbed off the gowns of women I had hugged.

There were stirring moments. As Sheila Lukins, co-author of "The Silver Palate Cookbook," slowly walked to the podium to receive two awards, the crowd rose to its feet. Ms. Lukins is recovering from a brain aneurysm that struck her five months ago. She, along with her partner Julee Rosso, fought back tears as they were inducted into the Who's Who of Cooking in America, and their book was elected to the Cookbook Hall of Fame.

And, like the Oscars, this gala also had a veteran performer who did a one-handed push-up. At the Beards it was cookbook ("Pleasures of the Good Earth") author Edward Giobbi, who after picking up his award, hit the stage floor at Alice Tully Hall and did the one-handed push-up.

Among restaurants, the big winner of the evening was Alice Waters. She was voted chef of the year, and her restaurant, Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., was named restaurant of the bTC year. Ms. Waters was not at the event. But neither was Thomas Jefferson, who also was honored. The late Mr. Jefferson, was inducted into the Who Was Who of American food and drink.

I was convinced that some other honorees -- authors Jane and Michael Stern -- were pulling a fast one. The couple who have written "Roadfood," "Square Meals" and "American Gourmet" were inducted into the Who's Who of Cooking in America. I thought they had picked up the honor once before.

I confronted Michael Stern with my suspicions. Stern said he was certain he and his wife had only been inducted once, because inductees are given a sculpture of French chef Auguste Escoffier. The sculpture weighs close to 40 pounds, Stern said, adding that had he lugged home two of the pieces, he would have remembered it.

Patrick O'Connell of the Inn at Little Washington, in Washington, Va., was named best chef in the mid-Atlantic region.

In cookbooks the big winner was "Sauces: Classical and Contemporary," by James Peterson (Van Nostrand Reinhold). It won top honors for books on a single subject and was also named cookbook of the year.

After the awards, folks feasted on a buffet featuring foods prepared by women chefs. The buffet was mobbed. I didn't make it to all of the 16 or so food stations, but I did have some magnificent veal marrow in wine made by Lydia Shire of Boston's Biba restaurant. Earlier in the evening Biba was voted best restaurant in the Northeast. The mustard barbecued quail with Vidalia onions and black-eyed pea relish served up by Elizabeth Terry, of Elizabeth on 37th Street in Savannah, Ga., was also a winner with me, as were the chocolate shortbread stars served up by Emily Luchetti of San Francisco's Stars restaurant.

The award for best chef in New York went to Daniel Boulud of Le Cirque. Other winners included Mark Milleto of Mark's Place in Miami for the Southeast; Robert Del Grande of Cafe Annie in Houston for the Southwest; Charlie Trotter of Charlie Trotter's Restaurant in Chicago for the Midwest; Michel Richard of Citrus for California and Hawaii; Barbara Figueroa of the Hunt Club in Seattle for the Northwest.

Other winners were:

"Spirit of the Harvest: North American Indian Cooking," by Beverly Cox and Martin Jacobs (Stewart, Tabori & Chang).

"Monday to Friday Cookbook," by Michele Urvater (Workman Publishing Company).

"Great Cakes," by Carole Walter (Ballantine).

"Simply French: Patricia Wells Presents the Cuisine of Joel Robuchon," by Patricia Wells (William Morrow).

"The Harry's Bar Cookbook: Recipes and Reminiscences from the World Famous Venice Bar and Restaurant," by Arrigo Cipriano (Bantam).

L "New Home Cooking," by Florence Fabricant (Clarkson Potter).

"Food and Friends," by Simone Beck with Suzanne Patterson (Penguin).

"Chez Eddy Living Heart Cookbook," by Antonio M. Gotto Jr. (Prentice Hall Press/Simon & Schuster).

"Oz Clark's New Classic Wines," by Oz Clark (Simon & Schuster).

C7 "A Vineyard Garden," by Molly Chappellet (Penguin).

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