Randall Grahm Wins Award
You read it here first, folks!
On Monday May 3, 2010, the James Beard Foundation presented its annual James Beard Foundation Awards at the Lincoln Center in New York City. Well-known celebrity chefs, Lidia Bastianich, Alton Brown and Wolfgang Puck stepped away from their kitchens for an evening to host the three hour event.
Among the many winners was one surprise (for me, anyway). Randall Grahm, the very articulate and interesting winemaker at Bonny Doon Vineyards, and creator of such wines as Ca’ del Solo, the Cigare Family and Vinferno, took first place in the Beverage category for his book, Been Doon So Long: A Randall Grahm Vinthology (University of California Press). A kind of flight of fancy, his book (and anything he writes, actually) is a compilation of well-thought, imaginative and very funny short stories about grapes and the wine industry. Think James Joyce meets Lewis Carroll.
I was surprised by the win only because, at times, awards are given to the most popular author, chef or personality rather than being based on actual merit. An unfair perception, perhaps, and certainly one that didn’t play out on Monday night.
The James Beard Foundation was, of course, named after James Beard, himself. Passionate about teaching and mentoring chefs, Beard “was a tireless champion for American cuisine and [for] those who sought to advance its place in the world of food.” This year’s theme was The Legacy Continues which focuses on and fosters the concept of advancing the culinary arts through education. The Foundation presents awards to all aspects of the industry, including chefs, restaurateurs, cookbook authors, food journalists, restaurant designers and architects. “The James Beard Foundation Awards are the highest honors for food and beverage professionals working in America.”