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2014 James Beard Awards

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Cronuts, Dominique Ansel (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Cronuts, Dominique Ansel (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

By J.M. HIRSCH,  AP Food Editor

And you thought the lines to get a Cronut were bad before!
Last year, New York pastry chef Dominique Ansel needed crowd control and rationing to handle the frenzy over his trademarked doughnut-croissant hybrid that became a viral success and spawned numerous knockoffs. But just as the furor was fading, the

James Beard Foundation has put him back at the center of the culinary map, on Monday naming him the nation’s top pastry chef.

Ansel gained fame last summer when his innovative sweet treat had New Yorkers lining up at dawn outside his Dominique Ansel Bakery to nab one of the 200 or so he made per day. There even was a Cronut black market, with some selling for as much as $40 online.

The Beard Foundation also gave a nod to the savory side of the baking aisle, naming Los Angeles bread and pizza guru Nancy Silverton the nation’s most outstanding chef.

She’s only the fourth woman to get the honor since it began in 1991. The others include Alice Waters (1992), Lidia Bastianich (2002) and Judy Rodgers (2004).
Silverton– whose early career included a stint as head pastry chef for Wolfgang Puck’s Spago– was at the fore of the artisanal bread movement. When she opened her restaurant, Campanile, she was frustrated when she couldn’t find a baker making the rustic sourdough breads she’d had during her training in Europe. So she taught herself to bake it.

In 1989, she opened La Brea Bakery next door to Campanile, and it quickly was regarded as one of the nation’s top bakeries. Two years later, the Beard Foundation named her the nation’s top pastry chef. Today, her restaurants include Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles, which she owns with Mario Batali.

On Monday, she said the decision to cook wasn’t easy, and she expected her family to be unhappy.

“I was in my senior year of college, when cooks were cooks. There were no celebrity chefs. I called my father up and said, `I’m dropping out of college. I want to cook,”’ Silverton said. “And he said, `As long as you go to Le Cordon Bleu.’ And so he sent me to Le Cordon Bleu. And here I am today.”

The James Beard awards honor those who follow in the footsteps of Beard, considered the dean of American cooking when he died in 1985. Monday’s ceremony in New York honored chefs and restaurants; a similar event on Friday was held for book and other media awards. Last year’s top chef honor was shared by David Chang and Paul Kahan.
The foundation’s outstanding restaurateur award went to Boston chef Barbara Lynch, marking only the second time the honor has gone to a woman. Lynch oversees half a dozen restaurants, including her first _ No. 9 Park and her most recent, Menton _ and is credited with fostering the city’s burgeoning food scene.

San Francisco’s The Slanted Door, where classic Vietnamese food gets a modern rethinking by owner and chef Charles Phan, was named the nation’s most outstanding restaurant.

Donald Link’s Peche Seafood Grill in New Orleans — known for its rustic coastal seafood cooked in an open hearth– garnered two awards Monday: best new restaurant overall, as well as a tie for best regional chef in the South for chef/partner Ryan Prewitt. He tied with Sue Zemanick of Gautreau’s, also in New Orleans.

The group’s Lifetime Achievement award went to Sirio Maccioni, the restaurateur behind New York City’s famed Le Cirque. Maccioni opened Le Cirque– French for “the circus”– in 1974 and it soon became a landmark on the city’s restaurant scene, helping to launch the careers of numerous chefs, including Daniel Boulud, David Bouley, Jacques Torres, Bill Telepan and Geoffrey Zakarian.
The Humanitarian of the Year honor went to Matt Haley, a restaurateur with seven restaurants in Delaware who works with multiple nonprofit groups, including Celebrity Chef’s Beach Brunch for Meals on Wheels.

“I’m a member of the most compassionate, caring industry in the world,” he said.

“I’m forever grateful for that. I will spend the rest of my life leveraging my business for good.”

The Beard Foundation also named its top regional chefs around the country: Dave Beran of Next in Chicago (Great Lakes); Vikram Sunderam of Rasika in Washington, D.C. (Mid-Atlantic); Justin Aprahamian of Sanford in Milwaukee (Midwest); April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig in New York City (New York City); Jamie Bissonnette of Coppa in Boston (Northeast); Naomi Pomeroy of Beast in Portland, Oregon (Northwest); Ryan Prewitt of Peche Seafood Grill in New Orleans and Sue Zemanick of Gautreau’s in New Orleans (South); Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Downtown Diner in Raleigh, North Carolina (Southeast); Chris Shepherd of Underbelly in Houston (Southwest); and Daniel Patterson of Coi in San Francisco (West).
___
J.M. Hirsch is the food editor for The Associated Press. He tweets at http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch

By The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) _ The winners of the 2014 James Beard Foundation restaurant and chef awards announced Monday are:
___
NATIONAL CHEF AWARDS:  
_ Outstanding Chef
Nancy Silverton of Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles
_ Outstanding Restaurant
The Slanted Door in San Francisco
_ Rising star Chef of the Year
Jimmy Bannos Jr. of The Purple Pig in Chicago
and
Blaine Wetzel of The Willows Inn on Lummi Island in Lummi Island, Washington
_ Outstanding Restaurateur
Barbara Lynch of Barbara Lynch Gruppo (No. 9 Park, Menton, B&G Oysters, and others) in Boston
_ Best New Restaurant
Peche Seafood Grill in New Orleans
_ Outstanding Pastry Chef
Dominique Ansel of Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York City
_ Outstanding Service
The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena, California
_ Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional
Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery in Brooklyn, New York
_ Outstanding Wine Program
The Barn at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee
_ Outstanding Bar Program
The Bar at the NoMad Hotel in New York City
___
   REGIONAL CHEF AWARDS  
_ Great Lakes
Dave Beran of Next in Chicago
_ Mid-Atlantic
Vikram Sunderam of Rasika in Washington, D.C.
_ Midwest
Justin Aprahamian of Sanford in Milwaukee
_ New York City
April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig
_ Northeast
Jamie Bissonnette of Coppa in Boston
_ Northwest
Naomi Pomeroy of Beast in Portland, Oregon
_ South
Ryan Prewitt of Peche Seafood Grill in New Orleans
and
Sue Zemanick of Gautreau’s in New Orleans
_ Southeast
Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Downtown Diner in Raleigh, North Carolina
_ Southwest
Chris Shepherd of Underbelly in Houston
_ West
Daniel Patterson of Coi in San Francisco
___
James Beard Foundation America’s Classics
_ Hansen’s Sno-Bliz in New Orleans
Owner: Ashley Hansen
_ Nick’s Italian Cafe in McMinnville, Oregon
Owners: Nick Peirano, Carmen Peirano and Eric Ferguson
_ Olneyville New York System in Providence, Rhode Island
Owners: Stephanie Stevens Turini and Greg Stevens
_ Perini Ranch Steakhouse in Buffalo Gap, Texas
Owners: Lisa and Tom Perini
_ Sokolowski’s University Inn in Cleveland
Owners: Bernard Sokolowski, Mary Balbier and Michael Sokolowski
___
James Beard Foundation Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America Inductees
_ Edward Behr, food writer, St. Johnsbury, Vermont
_ John Besh, chef and restaurateur, New Orleans
_ David Chang, chef and restaurateur, New York City
_ Barry Estabrook, writer, Vergennes, Vermont
_ Paul Kahan, chef and restaurateur, Chicago
_ Sherry Yard, pastry chef and author, Los Angeles
___
_ James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award
Sirio Maccioni of Le Cirque in New York City
_ James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year
Matt Haley, philanthropist and restaurateur, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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