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The Daily Meal Hall of Fame: James Beard

The Daily Meal Hall of Fame: James Beard

With the help of The Daily Meal Council, we have selected ten key figures in the history of food to honor this year in our Hall of Fame. Here, Council member Camas Davis, food writer and founder of the Portland [Oregon] Meat Collective, explains why cookbook author and American food champion James Beard belongs on the roster.

In my early 20s, I moved to New York City from my native Oregon and promptly embedded myself on the editorial staff of a food magazine. I was young, and rather clueless about the world of food, but my bosses sent me out to restaurant openings and media events and trusted I’d find my way. I heard a lot of names thrown around at these gatherings, names I was clearly supposed to know but didn’t. Where I was from, so far as I knew, we didn’t have any big names in the food world — not yet, anyway. But, inevitably, every time I told someone I was from Oregon, they always brought up some guy named James Beard.

“Oh! Oregon! Did you ever meet James Beard?”

“Oregon! The land of James Beard and crab cakes!”

I had no idea who this James Beard was, but I wasn’t about to let anyone else know that.

"Oh, James, yes. He does make a mean crab cake,” I’d reply (innocent of the fact, of course, that he’d passed away in 1985.)

There was also always talk of some fabled townhouse in Greenwich Village named after this Beard, where all the top chefs went to show off their skills once they’d been “chosen.”

“Are you going to Jean-George’s Beard dinner tonight?”

“Did you hear Pasternak got a Beard award?”

Fearing I’d be exposed as the rookie I so obviously was, I never did get up the nerve to ask any of my colleagues who James Beard was, but one evening, after everyone at the magazine had gone home, I paid a visit to our library’s shelves and found him. As it turned out, I recognized the man staring back at me. In fact, I’d known him my entire life.

That shiny, ovular head. Those laughing eyes. That warm, mischievous smile. That bow tie. Those huge, goofy ears that looked like they could hear, literally, everything. That moustache. The beautiful, voracious rotundity of his physical form.

I knew James Beard (1903–1985) in the way that so many of us do. Because his face has eternally stared out at me from the cookbook shelves of my family members, my friends, my neighbors. Because when I stayed home sick from grade school, I was sometimes lucky enough to catch a glimpse of him on TV holding a wooden spoon full of steaming broth to his lips. Because every shrimp Louie and onion sandwich I have ever eaten can be traced back to one of his cookbooks. Because I grew up on Beard’s crab cake recipe without even knowing it was his. Because James Beard was and still is the kind of icon who seeps so deeply into our lives that we take him for granted. We almost forget who he is, because he is so much a part of us. We are made of James Beard. Our dinner tables? They are made of James Beard, too.

“In the beginning, there was James Beard,” someone — Nora Ephron? Gael Greene? — once wrote. She was right. Our modern food lives began with James Beard: caterer, culinary teacher, newspaper columnist, cookbook writer, "the Dean of American Cookery,” “America’s first foodie.”

James Beard’s own beginnings looked like this: Born in Portland, Oregon, in 1903; his mother, passionate about food, ran a boarding house, and his father worked at Portland’s Customs house. The family spent summers surrounded by the foggy splendor of the Oregon Coast, feasting on wild strawberries and razor clams, Dungeness crab and Shoalwater oysters, an experience he writes about extensively in his memoir Delights and Prejudices. What we think of today as true Pacific Northwest cuisine, a cuisine shaped by Oregon’s native bounty — salmon, trout, and elk, fiddlehead ferns and morels, cow parsnip and huckleberries — in turn, shaped Beard. One could easily argue that our country’s current food culture — the Food Network, Top Chef, Kitchen Confidential, our “great irrepressible gourmania,” as Gael Greene wrote back in 1985 — would not even exist were it not for James Beard.

But it was his travels in England and France in the 1920s and his move to New York City in 1937 that expanded his own notion of what a truly homespun American cuisine could look like. Although he had trained as a singer and actor, he launched his own catering company to capitalize on the cocktail party craze that had swept the city. In 1940 he compiled his recipes into a book, Hors D'Oeuvre and Canapés, which most certainly launched Beard into the public eye. By 1946, he had hosted America’s first food show, I Love to Eat, on NBC. And by 1955 he was an established newspaper columnist and had established the James Beard Cooking School, where, for the next 30 years, he taught home cooks and professional chefs alike how to cook simple, honest food with fresh ingredients. His delights and prejudices have had a lasting effect on our country’s appetites. In fact, one could easily argue that our country’s current food culture — the Food Network, Top Chef, Kitchen Confidential, our “great irrepressible gourmania,” as Gael Greene wrote back in 1985 — would not even exist were it not for James Beard.

While Beard’s television persona and bow-tied visage are most assuredly seared into our collective cultural memory, his influence on us came largely via the written word. Throughout his exhaustive, and very autobiographical, body of work — from his syndicated newspaper columns to some 22 books on food, including titles like Cook It Outdoors (1941) and Beard on Food (1974) — Beard urged us to feed ourselves with good, simple, accessible ingredients. He wanted us to embrace the theatricality of food: “…[O]ffering food to people is a matter of showmanship, and no matter how simple the performance, until you do it well, with love and originality, you have a flop in your hands,” he wrote in Delights and Prejudices. Beard spoke about eating locally and seasonally like there was, really, no other way to cook. He inspired us to throw out our Jell-O molds and to love our wooden spoons. His thriftiness and inventiveness made him a true American cook. He wished for us to see what he saw: that our meat loaves and crab cakes and curried deviled eggs were the building blocks of American cuisine, a cuisine worthy of pride, revelry, and celebration.

"America has the opportunity, as well as the resources, to create for herself a truly national cuisine,” Beard wrote in The Fireside Cook Book in 1949, “that will incorporate all that is best in the traditions of the many people who have crossed the seas to form our new, still-young nation."

Our nation may still be relatively young, but the myriad, delicious ways in which Beard has seeped into our cultural and culinary bones feel age-old, in all the right ways.

Find The Daily Meal Hall of Fame here.

In Memoriam: Marcella Hazan

The James Beard Foundation is deeply saddened by the loss of author and culinary legend Marcella Hazan. A native of Italy's Emilia-Romagna region, Hazan published several Italian cookbooks, and was widely considered to be one of the world's foremost authorities on authentic Italian cuisine and techniques. She is a multiple James Beard Book Award winner her first book, The Classic Italian Cook Book: The Art of Italian Cooking and the Italian Art of Eating, was inducted into the JBF Cookbook Hall of Fame in 2000. She also received the Foundation's Lifetime Achievement award that same year. In 1986 she was named a "Who's Who of Food & Beverage."

In homage to Hazan's rich life and impact, we're sharing a profile of her written for the 2000 James Beard Awards program. It is presented below.

&ldquoMarcella Hazan,&rdquo Craig Claiborne once wrote, &ldquois a national treasure&hellipNo one has ever done more to spread the gospel of pure Italian cookery in America.&rdquo Julia Child called her &ldquomy mentor in all things Italian.&rdquo Food writer Chris Sherman declared her &ldquoAmerica&rsquos most revered teacher of Italian cooking.&rdquo The praise that has been lavished on this diminutive, raspy-voiced teacher and cookbook author is as astounding as it is well-deserved, especially in light of the fact that Hazan, who taught herself how to cook as a newlywed immigrant in Manhattan in the 1950s, stumbled on her monumental career entirely by accident. A chance word or two&mdasha hastily made promise in reply to questions half understood&mdashand a culinary superstar was on her way to changing the way Americans think about Italian food.

Hazan was born in the Italian fishing village of Cesenatico in Emilia-Romagna, and raised there and in Alexandria, Egypt. She didn&rsquot do any cooking in her youth. The maid took care of that, while Hazan focused on science. She earned double doctorate degrees from the universities of Padua and Ferrara in biology and the natural sciences, and she was a professor when she met her husband, Victor, in 1953. Theirs was, and is, a great love affair they married in 1955, moved to New York, and have been virtually inseparable, in life and in work, ever since.

When she arrived in New York, Hazan&mdashwho spoke virtually no English&mdashlanded a job at the Guggenheim Institute, studying gum disease. But the subject that fascinated her in her new home was food. Biology she understood the science of the kitchen was a brave new world. Her new husband was a true gourmand, and she wanted to cook the food they both had loved in Italy for him, but she hadn&rsquot the faintest idea how. Determined to learn, she got herself a copy of Ada Boni&rsquos Talismano della Felicità, learned to negotiate American supermarkets (&ldquoTo me the food was in coffins, trapped,&rdquo she says of the highly packaged American fare of the day), and started cooking. Like the scientist she was, she experimented, trying to recreate the flavors of the Italian meals she missed so much with American ingredients. As she writes in Marcella Cucina, her latest book, &ldquoI learned to cook by cooking, by discovering what had to be done to produce the results I wanted.&rdquo She served her first, tentative home-cooked Italian meals to a discriminating audience of one, on a card table so rickety she could fill her soup bowls only a quarter of the way up. At every meal, Hazan and her husband analyzed, dissected, and discussed her work. From the beginning, he swears, the food was good. Over time, she learned, gained confidence, and eventually left the cookbook behind. When her son was born, she gave up her job, and found herself spending more and more time in the kitchen.

By the time she enrolled in a Chinese cooking class in 1968, Hazan was a masterful cook, though her English was still less than perfect. She impressed the half-dozen women in her class, who began to quiz her about Italian cooking. When they asked her whether she enjoyed teaching, Hazan answered that she did she was talking about biology. But when she figured out what her classmates wanted, she agreed to give weekly cooking lessons.

The classes were a revelation for her students. Italian cooking in America in the late 1960s and early 1970s meant pizza, spaghetti and meatballs, cannelloni. Restaurateur and longtime friend&mdashand fellow Italian culinary crusader&mdashTony May explained, &ldquoThere was a gross misconception of what Italian food is all about.&rdquo The food was faux-Italian, watered down for American palates and blended with other culinary traditions. It was heavy, coarse, unlovable. Hazan pointedly ignored it. She cooked the food that she had grown up with, the food that she and her husband craved in their American life: authentic, complex, subtle, regional Italian fare. Hazan&rsquos students were thrilled, and they talked her up. Soon the word was out in Manhattan&rsquos food community. A cooking school was launched.

In 1970 Victor Hazan sent a notice about his wife&rsquos classes to the New York Times, hoping for a spot in its annual directory. The announcement arrived too late for the listing, but Craig Claiborne, then the Times&rsquo food writer, happened across it. Intrigued, he called up to arrange an interview and found himself invited to lunch. Hazan and her cookery (tortelloni, veal scaloppine) impressed him so much that he wrote a glowing article, including recipes, and suddenly, the biologist was a culinary star. Sometime later, an editor at Harper&rsquos Magazine Press called. He was promptly invited to dinner, and he asked Hazan to write a cookbook. Unsure of her English, she was hesitant, but her husband volunteered to translate her handwritten, no-nonsense recipes. The result was The Classic Italian Cook Book, which went on to sell more than half a million copies, becoming one of the nation&rsquos most-read, best-loved, home-cooking guides. With this first book, Hazan dealt a fatal blow to the monster of faux-Italian cuisine in America, insisting on the primacy&mdashand the deliciousness&mdashof simple, authentic regional Italian food. As May put it, &ldquoMarcella tried to simplify the approach to Italian cooking, by talking about ingredients, talking about simple technique, talking about the integrity of food being prepared to eat. She single-handedly put forward a new image of Italian cuisine for the populace at large.&rdquo

But in 1976, Hazan left the United States, taking her now-burgeoning cooking school to Bologna in 1980, she moved to Venice, where she held her classes in a 16th-century palazzo. Foodies flocked to the school. James Beard himself made a pilgrimage to Hazan&rsquos Venetian kitchens. With her husband&rsquos help, she kept producing American cookbooks: More Classic Italian Cooking (Knopf, 1978) winner of a Tastemaker Award Marcella&rsquos Italian Kitchen (Knopf, 1986) Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Knopf, 1992), winner of the James Beard/KitchenAid Award for Best Italian Cookbook. Marcella Cucina (HarperCollins, 1997), which earned a then-record advance for a cookbook in the United States, won both the James Beard Award for Best Mediterranean Cookbook and the I.A.C.P.&rsquos Julia Child Cookbook Award for Best International Cookbook. In 1992, the Hazans won the Food Arts Silver Spoon Award for &ldquosterling performance&rdquo in introducing Americans to &ldquoItalian food and Italian wines&mdashas they&rsquore served and consumed in Italy.&rdquo In 1986, she was inducted into the James Beard Foundation/D&rsquoArtagnan Cervena Who&rsquos Who of Food and Beverage in America. In 1997 Esquire magazine put Hazan on its list of The 100 Best People in the World &ldquoBy best,&rdquo the editors elaborated, &ldquowe mean people who make our lives richer or larger or happier.&rdquo

In 1998, Hazan and her husband sold the Italian palazzo, closed down the cooking school, and moved to Long Boat Key, on Florida&rsquos west coast. Their son, Giuliano, himself a popular cooking teacher and author of The Classic Pasta Cookbook (Dorling Kindersley, 1993), lives nearby with his family the weather is gentle the ocean is just steps away and Hazan can see it from her stove, positioned squarely in the middle of the kitchen. (The most social of culinarians, she refuses to cook facing the wall.) Though she has slowed down, she has not exactly retired. Speaking engagements, guest teaching stints, and television appearances are lined up years in advance. As always, Hazan&rsquos straight-up, from-the-heart approach to regional Italian cookery is in high demand.

Hazan, Patricia Talorico wrote in the News Journal, &ldquois a purist interested only in three things in her cooking: clarity, passion and sincerity.&rdquo Her contribution to Italian cooking in America cannot be overestimated. &ldquoIf you use sun-dried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar or extra-virgin olive oil,&rdquo wrote Scott Joseph of Florida magazine, &ldquoor if you dine on calamari and pasta salad, you do so because Marcella Hazan introduced them to America.&rdquo &ldquoShe has done for Italian cuisine what Julia Child has done for French cooking,&rdquo May asserts. On May 7, he&rsquoll be holding a special brunch at San Domenico NY in her honor. &ldquoWe are excited that she is being recognized by the James Beard Foundation for this special Lifetime Achievement award,&rdquo he says. &ldquoShe deserves it. They could not have picked a better person to represent the evolution in Italian cooking.&rdquo

If you need any further measure of the impact Hazan has had on the culinary lives of millions of Americans, consider this: on tour in California for Marcella Cucina not long ago, she met a woman at a book signing who had been so galvanized by Hazan&rsquos work that she had named her baby Marcella. Keep an eye out for a hot new food pro from Pasadena in the year 2020 or so. If there&rsquos anything in a name, that little girl promises to be a culinary powerhouse.

James Beard Foundation picks ‘Historic Heston’ as cookbook of the year

Boy, talk about surprises. That sound you just heard wasn’t the Santa Anas blowing, it was the collective gasp coming from the American cookbook-writing community after the James Beard Foundation selected as the best cookbook of the year “Historic Heston,” a 9-pound, 400-page slipcovered deluxe edition that retails for $200, if you can find a copy for sale.

The much-anticipated restaurant awards will be presented Monday night.

The winning book, by the well-known British chef Heston Blumenthal, is a lavishly illustrated look back at the history of English cuisine and a reimagining of some of its dishes. Though it was published to a few respectful reviews, it did not exactly burn up the charts.

Still, it triumphed at the Beard awards Friday night, beating out such popular favorites as Deborah Madison’s “Vegetable Literacy” and Shauna James Ahern’s “Gluten-Free Girl Every Day.”

The only Southern California author to be honored was Martha Rose Shulman, who co-wrote “The Art of French Pastry” with French Pastry School’s Jacquy Pfeiffer. It won the Baking and Dessert category.

Mexican cooking legend Diana Kennedy was selected for the foundation’s Cookbook Hall of Fame.

American Cooking: “The New Midwestern Table: 200 Heartland Recipes,” by Amy Thielen Beverage: “The Cocktail Lab: Unraveling the Mysteries of Flavor and Aroma in Drink, with Recipes,” by Tony Conigliaro Cooking From a Professional Point of View: “Historic Heston,” by Heston Blumenthal General Cooking: “Smoke: New Firewood Cooking,” by Tim Byres International: “Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking,” by Fuchsia Dunlop Focus on Health: “Gluten-Free Girl Every Day,” by Shauna James Ahern with Daniel Ahern Reference and Scholarship: “Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine One Plate at a Time,” by Adrian Miller Photography: “René Redzepi: A Work in Progress,” by photographers Ali Kurshat Altinsoy, Ditte Isager, René Redzepi, Lars Williams and the Noma Team Writing and Literature: “Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us,” by Michael Moss Single Subject: “Culinary Birds: The Ultimate Poultry Cookbook,” by John Ash with James O. Fraioli Vegetable-Focused and Vegetarian: “Vegetable Literacy,” by Deborah Madison Baking and Dessert: “The Art of French Pastry,” by Jacquy Pfeiffer with Martha Rose Shulman.

2011 James Beard Foundation Broadcast Media Awards

Audio Webcast or Radio Show
CBC Ideas: "Pasta: The Long and Short of It"
Host: Megan Williams
Area: Canada and Online
Producers: Susan Mahoney and Megan Williams

TV Food Personality/Host
Alton Brown
Show: Good Eats
Network: Food Network

Television Program, In Studio or Fixed Location
Top Chef: Season 7
Host: Padma Lakshmi
Network: Bravo
Producers: Tom Colicchio, Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz, and Dave Serwatka

Television Program, On Location
Avec Eric
Host: Eric Ripert
Network: PBS, Online
Producers: Justin Barocas, Heather Brown, and Geoffrey Drummond

Television Segment
60 Minutes: "Chef José Andrés"
Host: Anderson Cooper
Network: CBS
Producers: Bill Owens and Kara Vaccaro

Television Special/Documentary
Milk War
Host: Colm Feore
Network: ichannel
Producers: Declan O'Driscoll and Kevin O'Keefe

Video Webcast
Hosts: Eric Anderson, Brian Clark, and Jay Selman
Producers: Mark Ryan and Jay Selman

Sherry Yard among six to be inducted into James Beard hall of fame

Former Spago and future Helms Bakery pastry chef Sherry Yard will be among the new inductees into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America, the hall of fame of the culinary world.

Other honorees include writers Edward Behr and Barry Estabrook and chefs Paul Kahan, David Chang and John Besh.

The group will be inducted at the foundation’s annual awards ceremony, held this year May 5 at Lincoln Center in New York.

Yard was the executive pastry chef for Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant empire for almost 20 years, until she left last year to begin preparing the soon-to-open Helms Bakery with Father’s Office and Lukshon chef Sang Yoon. Yard is also the author of three cookbooks, including “The Secrets of Baking”, which was named best pastry book by the Beard awards in 2003.

Louisiana chef Besh runs nine restaurants, including the flagship August in New Orleans he has written three cookbooks.

Chang is the chef at Momofuku restaurant, which has outlets in New York, Sydney and Toronto, as well as six other Momofuku spinoffs in New York he also co-publishes the highly regarded quarterly Lucky Peach.

Kahan has been described as the Alice Waters of the Midwest. His Chicago restaurants, which focus on locally grown seasonal ingredients, include Blackbird, Avec, the Publican, Big Star, Publican Quality Meats and, most recently, Nico Osteria.

Behr is the publisher of the long-running Art of Eating newsletter. Since 1986 it has focused on traditional food and cooking, emphasizing the connection between taste and place.

Estabrook has been a contributing editor at Gourmet magazine and served on the editorial board of the journal Gastronomica. He writes on food issues for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic and Saveur. He is the author of “Tomatoland.”

TV Listing


Key West Backyard “Cut Up” Salad

Accomodations provided by:

The Marker Waterfront Resort
200 William Street
Key West, FL 33040

Special thanks for extra video featured in this episode: VISIT FLORIDA, Florida Keys & Key West, Library of Congress.

Special thanks also to our hosts, Maria and Rob Sharpe for opening their lovely Key West home to us.

Our Guest, Norman Van Aken, is best known for introducing “fusion” into the lexicon of modern cookery. He is also known as the “founding father of New World Cuisine” – a celebration of Latin, Caribbean, Asian, American and African flavors. He is the only Floridian Chef inducted into the prestigious James Beard Foundation’s list of “Who’s Who in American Food and Beverage”. He was a 2016 MenuMasters Hall of Fame inductee along with previous winners Wolfgang Puck and Jacques Pépin. Additionally, Van Aken is the host of “A Word on Food,” a radio show that airs twice a week on NPR, in addition to being a staff writer for one of the leading culinary websites, The Daily Meal. His columns, “Kitchen Conversations” feature chefs, authors, wine-makers, cocktail gurus and restaurant luminaries.

When he is not in the kitchen he can be found spending time with his wife, Janet son, Justin daughter-in-law Lourdes and his pride and joy, his granddaughter, Audrey Quinn Van Aken.


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Latin American cookbook wins James Beard award for book of year

In a sign that points to the next big culinary trend to shake up the food scene in the US and abroad, a cookbook that explores the complex, rich flavors of Latin America has been named cookbook of the year.

Chef and restaurateur Maricel Presilla's book "Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America" took home the coveted title at the James Beard Foundation Book Awards in New York Friday, an event commonly referred to as the Oscars of the food world.

It's an ambitious tome of 912 pages that takes on the daunting task of tackling the immense geographical and culinary scope of flavors from Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and the Spanish-speaking countries in the Caribbean.

After 30 years of research and travels that took the chef into the kitchens of housewives and behind the stalls of street vendors, the New Jersey restaurateur put to paper more than 500 recipes that include authentic adobos, empanadas, tamales, ceviches, moles, and tres leches cakes.

In addition to a five out of five-star rating by readers on, the book has also garnered accolades from Presilla's chef colleagues, including Jacques Pépin.

"The food of the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking New World is complex, intricate, and has variety and range, extending from Cuba to Ecuador and from Mexico to Brazil," he said in a review.

"Maricel Presilla, a chef and food historian, takes us through that whole continent in a comprehensible, intelligent, original, and delicious voyage."

--Peruvian and Brazilian cuisine--

Meanwhile, the rich, complex flavors of Peruvian cuisine have been gaining major traction in the gastronomy world, thanks in large part to local celebrity chef Gaston Acurio whose restaurant empire has become an international ambassador for the country's foodscape.

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“This is the only book that I’ve kept at my side for over 20 years that still triggers perfection and inspires me to master beautiful technique. For any level of cook or chef, this book is a must-have reference to basics or advanced skills to remind us always what it was and what it’s supposed to be!” -- Ana Sortun, James Beard award-winning Mediterranean chef and owner of Cambridge, MA-based Oleana

&ldquoI'm a cookbook accumulator -- I have more than 1,000, all well chosen for their excellent contents and designs. But do I cook from any of them? Very rarely! There is one exception, however, and it's a scruffy little book that was given to me when I was a student at La Varenne: the Basic Recipe book. My copy is more than 25 years old now, and has a few stained pages, due to the fact that I find myself referring to it for just about every recipe development project I've done. Whether it's checking the ratio for a thick bechamel or reminding myself how many yolks per cup of milk for a custard, I always appreciate the solid foundational recipes that help me create my own dishes. I've still never used the fondant recipe, however, and I'm pretty sure I never will!" -- Martha Holmberg,former editor and publisher of Fine Cooking magazine, award-winning food writer, and author of Modern Sauces and Fresh Food Nation

“There are few books more well worn than my tattered copy of Secrets of the LaVarenne Kitchen. It's my go-to guide for foundation recipes. There are hundreds if not hundreds of thousands of these sorts of recipes in print and on the internet, but I am certain that these work and work well. LaVarenne and Anne Willan continually guide me in the kitchen and in my food writing nearly each and every day. I am a better cook and writer because of it.“ -- Virginia Willis, Southern food authority, best-selling cookbook author, and named by Chicago Tribune as one of “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know.”

“My copy of LaVarenne Basic Recipes, which I was given when I first arrived at Château Le Feÿ as a stagiaire in 1989, still sits at eye level on my cookbook shelves. It's an excellent quick reference for the kind of detail that can slip any cook's mind. "What's the correct temperature for caramel, again?" "How much pastry do I need for a 12-inch tart shell, as opposed to an 8-inch? "Why was it I'm not supposed to boil the fish stock?" The book is full of tricks that take good cooking to great, along with recipes which form the essential foundation of any home cook's repertoire. I'd be lost without it.” -- Laura Calder, James Beard award-winning chef, best-selling cookbook author, and host of “French Food at Home”

"This compact booklet holds the key unlocking the secrets to basic stock making, French sauces, and indispensable pastry components. If you can only have one basic book, this is it!" -- Gale Gand, co-founder of Spritz Burger and Tru, best-selling author or “Lunch!", and two-time James Beard award-winning pastry chef

“La Varenne founder Anne Willan taught a generation of Americans how to cook. This timeless reference book has been my go-to guide for the fundamentals of French cuisine since my student days in Paris. It remains an indispensable resource for any serious student of the culinary arts.” -- Steven Raichlen, James Beard award-winning chef, barbecue expert, and host of “Primal Grill”

‘Yucatán,’ Barbara Kafka top James Beard book awards

David Sterling’s “Yucatán: Recipes From a Culinary Expedition,” published by University of Texas Press’ William and Bettye Nowlin Series in Art, History, and Culture, was honored as the best cookbook of the year Friday night at the prestigious James Beard awards in New York.

In the lavishly illustrated book, Sterling, who runs a cooking school in Mexico, pulls together the various ethnic and cultural strands that make up Yucatecan cooking -- influences from France, Spain and Portugal, Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean.

This is the second big win for the book. “Yucatán” had earlier won the first $10,000 Art of Eating prize for the best cookbook of the year.

Also Friday night, longtime author Barbara Kafka was inducted into the cookbook hall of fame. She joins Diana Kennedy and Anne Willan as winners since the category was switched in 2013 to reflect authors rather than specific books.

Kafka, a protege of Beard, is the author of numerous cookbooks including “Roasting,” “Microwave Cooking” and her newest, “The Intolerant Gourmet,” about cooking without gluten or lactose.

The James Beard restaurant awards will be announced May 4 in Chicago.

Cookbook Hall of Fame: Barbara Kafka.

Cookbook of the Year: “Yucatán: Recipes From a Culinary Expedition” by David Sterling.

American Cooking: “Heritage” by Sean Brock.

Baking and Dessert: “Flavor Flours: A New Way to Bake With Teff, Buckwheat, Sorghum, Other Whole & Ancient Grains, Nuts & Non-Wheat Flours” by Alice Medrich.

Beverage: “Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail” by Dave Arnold.

Cooking From a Professional Point of View: “Bar Tartine: Techniques & Recipes” by Nicolaus Balla and Cortney Burns.

Focus on Health: Cooking Light: “Mad Delicious: The Science of Making Healthy Food Taste Amazing” by Keith Schroeder.

General Cooking: “The Kitchn Cookbook: Recipes, Kitchens & Tips to Inspire Your Cooking” by Faith Durand and Sara Kate Gillingham.

International: “Yucatán: Recipes From a Culinary Expedition” by David Sterling.

Photography: “In Her Kitchen: Stories and Recipes From Grandmas Around the World” by Gabriele Galimberti.

Reference and Scholarship: “Butchering Poultry, Rabbit, Lamb, Goat, and Pork: The Comprehensive Photographic Guide to Humane Slaughtering and Butchering” by Adam Danforth.

Single Subject: “Bitter: A Taste of the World’s Most Dangerous Flavor, With Recipes” by Jennifer McLagan.

Vegetable Focused and Vegetarian: “At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen: Celebrating the Art of Eating Well” by Amy Chaplin.

Writing and Literature: “The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food” by Dan Barber.

Diana Kennedy, "Top Chef" top James Beard awards

Diana Kennedy’s “Oaxaca al Gusto” was the best cookbook of the year according to the James Beard Foundation, at “Top Chef” was the best food television show. The awards were announced Friday night at Espace in New York. The restaurant awards will be announced Monday night. Harold McGee’s “On Food and Cooking” was placed in the Cookbook Hall of Fame.

In other cookbook awards, American Cooking was won by “Pig: King of the Southern Table” by James Villas Baking and Dessert: “Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours,” by former Los Angeles pastry chef Kim Boyce and frequent Los Angeles Times contributor Amy Scattergood Beverage: “Secrets of the Sommeliers: How to Think and Drink Like the World’s Top Wine Professionals” by Jordan Mackay and Rajat Parr Cooking from a Professional Point of View: “Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine” by René Redzepi General Cooking: “The Essential New York Times Cook Book: Classic Recipes for a New Century” by Amanda Hesser Healthy Focus: “The Simple Art of EatingWell Cookbook” by Jessie Price & the EatingWell Test Kitchen International: “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Mastery, with Authentic Recipes and Stories”  by Grace Young Photography: “Noma” Reference and Scholarship: “Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes” by Mark Bitterman Single Subject: “Meat: A Kitchen Education” by James Peterson and Writing and Literature: “Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food” by Paul Greenberg .

In the journalism awards, Patric Kuh of Los Angeles magazine won the Craig Claiborne Distinguished Restaurant Review Award and Jonathan Gold of LA Weekly won the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award. Publication of the Year was Edible Communities. Cooking, Recipes, or Instruction: Amy Thielen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune Environment, Food Politics and Policy: Carl Safina of EatingWell Food Culture and Travel: Rick Bragg, Francine Maroukian, and Robb Walsh in Garden & Gun Food Column: Tim Carman of the Washington City Paper Food-Related Feature: Dan Koeppel of Saveur Food Section of a General Interest Publication: San Francisco Chronicle Group Food Blog: Grub Street New York Health and Nutrition: Rachael Moeller Gorman of Eating Well Humor: Ruth Bourdain Individual Food Blog: Barry Estabrook of Multimedia Food Feature: Michael Gebert and Julie Thiel of the Chicago Reader Personal Essay: Tom Junod Profile: Benjamin Wallace of New York magazine and Wine and Spirits: Jon Fine of Food & Wine. The Los Angeles Times does not enter the James Beard awards.

In the broadcast and online division, Audio Webcast or Radio Show was “CBC Ideas: Pasta: The Long and Short of It” hosted by Megan Williams TV Food Personality: Alton Brown On-Location Television Program: “Avec Eric” by Eric Ripert Television Segment: “60 Minute: Chef Jose Andres” Television Special/Documentary: “Milk War” hosted by Colm Feore and produced by Declan O’Driscoll and Kevin O’Keefe and Video Webcast: GrapeRadio hosted by Eric Anderson, Brian Clark, and Jay Selman and produced by Mark Ryan and Selman.

Watch the video: James Beard Finalist Visits Show