Dan Barber Named Nation’s Top Chef By James Beard Foundation

May 5, 2009 at 8:52 am

By Verena Dobnik

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Dan Barber, a pioneer of the so-called farm-to-table restaurant movement, was named the nation’s top chef Monday by the James Beard Foundation.

Dan Barber was lauded for using his New York restaurants — Blue Hill New York and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills — to highlight the difference seasonal and sustainable agriculture can make on the plate.

Barber sees his cooking — which he calls American seasonal — as an effort to raise awareness about everyday food choices. At Stone Barns, which is set on a working farm, the menu is a simple list of fresh ingredients.

Barber, who was named one of the nation’s best new chefs in 2002 by Food & Wine magazine, previously was recognized by the Beard Foundation as the top New York chef in 2006. He also was a finalist for the top chef last year.

The James Beard awards are the Oscars of the food world, and honor those who follow in the footsteps of Beard, considered the dean of American cooking when he died in 1985.

Barber’s award comes at a time when much is being made of the importance of reconnecting Americans with food at its source. For example, first lady Michelle Obama recently planted a vegetable garden at the White House, a move long sought by proponents of sustainable agriculture.

Michael Pollan, a vocal critic of conventional agriculture, got a similar nod from the foundation Monday. His “In Defense of Food,” an examination of the American diet and food system, won a Beard book award.

Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s New York restaurant Jean George was honored as the nation’s top restaurant. The restaurant was a finalist in the category last year.

David Chang, who has received numerous accolades for his Momofuku Noodle Bar and Momofuku Ssam Bar restaurants in New York, earned “Best New Restaurant” for his Ko, which has been celebrated for its tasting menu-only offerings. The foundation honored Chang as best New York chef last year.

The foundation’s award for rising star went to San Francisco chef Nate Appleman, whose restaurant A16 features the foods of Italy’s Campania region.

In the cookbook categories, Jennifer McLagan’s “Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient,” won two awards — cookbook of the year and single subject cookbook.

Last year’s top chef, Grant Achatz, won a book award this year for “Alinea,” a cookbook based on his Chicago restaurant of the same name. The book won the professional cooking category.

The organization’s Lifetime Achievement award went to Ella Brennan, whose family has been a virtual dynasty in the New Orleans restaurant scene for decades.

Winners

The winners of the 2009 James Beard Foundation Awards include:

———

RESTAURANTS AND CHEFS (NATIONAL)

— Outstanding Restaurateur: Drew Nieporent, Myriad Restaurant Group, New York

— Outstanding Chef: Dan Barber, Blue Hill, New York

— Outstanding Restaurant: Jean Georges, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Phil Suarez, New York

— Outstanding New Restaurant: Momofuku Ko, David Chang and Peter Serpico, New York

— Rising Star Chef: Nate Appleman, A16, San Francisco

— Outstanding Pastry Chef: Gina DePalma, Babbo, New York

— Outstanding Wine Service: Le Bernardin, Wine Director: Aldo Sohm, New York

— Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional: Dale DeGroff, Dale DeGroff Co., New York

— Outstanding Service: Daniel, Daniel Boulud, New York

———

CHEFS (REGIONAL)

— Best Chef: Great Lakes

Michael Symon, Lola, Cleveland

— Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic

Jose Garces, Amada, Philadelphia

— Best Chef: Midwest

Tim McKee, La Belle Vie, Minneapolis

— Best Chef: New York

Gabriel Kreuther, The Modern, New York

— Best Chef: Northeast

Rob Evans, Hugo’s, Portland, Maine

— Best Chef: Northwest

Maria Hines, Tilth, Seattle

— Best Chef: Southwest

Paul Bartolotta, Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare at Wynn Las Vegas, Las Vegas

— Best Chef: South

John Currence, City Grocery, Oxford, Miss.

— Best Chef: Southeast

Mike Lata, Fig, Charleston, S.C.

— Best Chef: Pacific

Douglas Keane, Cyrus, Healdsburg, Calif.

———

BOOKS

— Cookbook of the Year

Jennifer McLagan, “Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes”

— Cookbook Hall of Fame

Jane Grigson, body of work including “The Art of Charcuterie,” “Good Things,” and “Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book”

— American Cooking

Martha Hall Foose, “Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales from a Southern Cook”

— Baking and Dessert

Shirley O. Corriher, “Bakewise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking”

— Beverage

Steven Kolpan, Brian H. Smith, Michael A. Weiss and The Culinary Institute of America, “WineWise: Your Complete Guide to Understanding, Selecting, and Enjoying Wine”

— Cooking from a Professional Point of View

Grant Achatz, “Alinea”

— General

Mark Bittman, “How to Cook Everything (Completely Revised Tenth Anniversary Edition)”

— Healthy Focus

Ellie Krieger, “The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life”

— International

Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, “Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China”

— Photography

Photographer: Dominic Davies, “The Big Fat Duck Cookbook”

— Reference

Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, “The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs”

— Single Subject

Jennifer McLagan, “Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes”

— Writing and Literature

Michael Pollan, “In Defense of Food”

———

OTHER:

— Humanitarian of the year: Feeding America

— Lifetime achievement: Ella Brennan

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Stuart Reb Donald

Stuart is a celebrity chef and award winning food writer. Donald performs live cooking demonstrations and penned the cookbook Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor."

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