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The James Beard Foundation Gets Cooking With ’Best Of The Best: A 25th Anniversary Celebration Of America’s Outstanding Chefs’

Originally Posted: March 12, 2012

'The James Beard Foundation’s Best of the Best' invites you into the nation’s most revered restaurant kitchens. (Courtesy Photo: The Rosen Group PR)

Southampton - The James Beard Foundation has released "The James Beard Foundation's Best of the Best: A 25th Anniversary Celebration of America's Outstanding Chefs" (Chronicle Books; $60) in commemoration of the nonprofit organization's 25th anniversary. Author Kit Wohl spent more than two years working with the 21 chefs who have won the prestigious James Beard Foundation Outstanding Chef Award, including the first JBF Award winner Wolfgang Puck, Thomas Keller, Mario BataliTom Colicchio. Each of the inspiring biographical monographs are featured in a beautifully compiled collectable volume dedicated to celebrating the chefs and cuisines that have delighted, roused, and challenged Americans' palates for decades.

Whether you are a part of the American food and drink establishment, an aspiring chef, a food and wine enthusiast, or a devoted hobby cook, 'The James Beard Foundation's Best of the Best' invites you into the nation's most revered restaurant kitchens for an insider's look at how award-winning chefs keep diners' appetites and minds engaged.

"No one could have imagined 25 years ago that there would be 24-hour television food programming," said Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation. "Best of the Best not only represents the important role of chefs, but takes us on a journey through the culinary multiculturalism that James Beard deemed so integral in American cooking."

Tie on your apron and get ready to celebrate, nurture, and preserve America's diverse culinary heritage and future with The James Beard Foundation's Best of the Best. Readers will enjoy:

 • A forward by Martha Stewart in which she remembers James Beard himself and his influence on
 • American cuisine
 • Personal profiles of each of the 21 James Beard Foundation Award-winning chefs.
 • Beautiful images by Susie Cushner that reveal the faces and kitchens behind the food.

 • Year-round cooking inspiration provided by mouth-watering recipes from all of the featured chefs, including Mario Batali, Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, Rick Bayless, David Bouley, Eric Ripert, Grant Achatz, and Dan Barber.

"The book chronicles the rediscovery of American cuisine and uncovers the trajectory of how it has evolved over the past 25 years," said author Kit Wohl. "What was new then is new again - the remarkable changes that have transpired over the years were pivotal in developing the emphasis on fresh, local products that has begun defining America's melting pot of regional cuisines that we see today. The impact continues to be felt everywhere from the White House to homes and restaurants; from farms to farmers markets and tables."

Highlights from several of the 21 featured chefs include:

 • Charlie Trotter, Charlie Trotter's, Chicago, IL: "I've never worked in my life, I'm the luckiest guy in the world. How could you not be psyched to be in a situation where you get to drink great wine every single day? You get to eat amazing food every single day? Who wouldn't like that, right?"

 • Alfred Portale, Gotham Bar and Grill, New York, NY: "I read cookbooks constantly. It is how my creative process works. It's like doing mental calisthenics."

 • Judy Rodgers, Zuni Café, San Francisco, CA: "It's been very satisfying to have a restaurant in an era and a place where this relatively easy, natural way of cooking is so appreciated. What I do at Zuni is unapologetically derivative - I just paid attention to the basics of traditional cooking. It's not my originality or Zuni's originality."

 • Thomas Keller, The French Laundry, Yountville, CA: "My biggest asset was my total ignorance. If someone had told me, 'Thomas, you are going to be working on this for the next 18 months. You will have to get an SBA loan. You'll have to talk to 400 people to get money and do all these things I couldn't do,' I would not have believed them."

 • Michel Richard, Michel Richard's Citronelle, Washington, DC: "My dream was to become a chef, and my mother had told me to be a great chef I should learn to be a pastry chef first. But she didn't tell me how long I should wait before becoming a real chef. It only took me 21 years to do it."

Kit Wohl is an award-winning writer, photographer, and artist. A lifelong food and wine enthusiast, met James Beard in 1979, an encounter that helped set her on a successful culinary career path. She is the author and photographer of eight cookbooks that celebrate cuisine and her native New Orleans.

About The James Beard Foundation
Founded in 1986, the James Beard Foundation is dedicated to celebrating, nurturing, and preserving America's diverse culinary heritage and future. A cookbook author and teacher, James Beard was a champion of American cuisine who helped educate and mentor generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts. Today the Beard Foundation continues in the same spirit by offering a variety of events and programs designed to educate, inspire, entertain, and foster a deeper understanding of our culinary culture. These programs include educational initiatives, food industry awards, an annual national food conference, Leadership Awards program, culinary scholarships, and publications. In addition to maintaining the historic James Beard House in New York City's Greenwich Village as a "performance space" for visiting chefs, the Foundation has created a robust online community, and hosts tastings, lectures, workshops, and food-related art exhibits in New York City and around the country.

About Chronicle Books
One of the most admired and respected publishing companies in the U.S., Chronicle Books was founded in 1967 and over the years has developed a reputation for award-winning, innovative books. Recognized as one of the 50 best small companies to work for in the U.S. (and the only independent publisher to receive this award), the company continues to challenge conventional publishing wisdom, setting trends in both subject and format, maintaining a list that includes much admired illustrated books and gift products in design, art, architecture, photography, food, lifestyle, pop culture, and acclaimed children's titles. Chronicle Books' objective is to create and distribute exceptional publishing that's instantly recognizable for its spirit, creativity, and value.

For more information, click here.

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bmn5772 says::
This is really nice, but I believe the Food Network is going in the wrong direction. The only person I watch now, is Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa. Ina presents the whole package from beginning to end without games and monkey-business. I also miss David Rosengarten. His show was very informative and non-gamey. Congrats to the chefs, but please....start another channel for people who want cooking, not stress, games, nonsense.
Mar 13, 2012 12:52 pm


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