Roll out the red carpet (and maybe some red napkins). The Oscars of food are upon us next Monday, May 5th. The James Beard Foundation has released its roster of nominees for 2014, with New York clocking in a healthy number for the Big Apple.
The New Yorkers doing our bellies proud this year include everyone from cronut mastermind Dominique Ansel to ramen king David Chang, alongside rising culinary stars like the folks nominated for the Best New Restaurant Category, where Betony, Carbon, and Estela each made the list.
The esteemed awards gets their name straight from culinary icon James Beard, whose cooking schools trained many of the country’s best cooks and whose books live on as recipes and reminders of his legendary career. Julia Child once described Beard as “the quintessential American cook. An endearing and always lively teacher, he loved people, loved his work, loved gossip, loved to eat, loved a good time.” (Sounds like our kind of gent.)
Child also led the efforts after his death in 1985 to set up the James Beard Foundation, which continues to give out scholarships to folks with the tastebuds of a chef and the will to complete a tough run at culinary school. Since 1990, the James Beard Foundation Awards have been handed out each year on the first Monday in May in honor of Beard’s birthday.
Tickets to the event at the Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater clock in at $475 per person for the general public. Grab a seat, or drop those Benjamins on a taste at one of the nominated eateries. In the meantime, pour a glass of wine and savor our rundown of the five folks vying for top culinary honors in the five boroughs. Here are the candidates for the Best Chef in New York City:
The Spotted Pig
Hailing from Birmingham, England, this Brit gave New York its first true gastropub with the opening of the West Village’s The Spotted Pig in 2004. And boy are we glad she did. For the past seven years, the menu of seasonal Italian and British eats has garned a Michelin star and a lineup of loyal locals.
When a culinary icon like Jean-Georges Vongerichten puts his faith in you to help him open up restaurants in Arizona, Utah, DC and New York, you know you’ve got some serious know-how in the kitchen. Tucked into a home and carpet store, ABC’s name may sound simple, but Kluger has helped to create a complex locavore-style menu.
Working his way up from pizza counters to culinary school, it wasn’t until Ladner met Mario Batali that things really took off. The Eataly mastermind decided to open Babbo in 1998, inviting Ladner on board as Sous Chef. Since then they’ve Ladner has served as Chef and partner at three more of Batali’s ventures, including Lupa Osteria Romana, Otto Enoteca Pizzeria and, yep, the great Del Posto.
This West Village restaurateur earned the nickname Obi Wan Kenobi during his run on Top Chef Masters thanks to his calm jedi-like mastery of the show’s high-pressure challenges. That just goes to show you how Waxman has made Barbuto’s rustic Italian dishes so lust-worthy.
The Midwest has long lacked a reputation as a culinary powerhouse. Luckily, they’ve got Michael White doing them proud. Since growing up in Wisconsin, he’s opened up some of New York’s best restaurants, including Marea, where he’s dreamt up a whole host of coastal Italian favorites. Pass the frutti di mare, would ya?
Want to know more? Check out the full list of the James Beard Award nominees here.