Pinnacle of Yum
By Brett Ascarelli
Bestowing honors on the food industry's crème de la crème, the James Beard Awards ceremony got an upgrade on Monday. Instead of taking over New York's Marriott ballroom as usual, it rolled out in the twinkling, velvety and much-more-suitable-for-an-event-of-this-caliber Lincoln Center. Nominees and winners munched on quirky appetizers, like banana pudding brûlée with cat's tongue cookies. Ah, yes, the ever-elusive delicacy, lingua feline . . .
Well, whatever it was, it was no doubt damn good. And it was just the cherry on top, considering all the good news for the North Bay's foodies. Yountville's Thomas Keller took home the most Outstanding Restaurateur award for the French Laundry. Mendocino's John Scharffenberger won Best Book on a Single Subject for his book The Essence of Chocolate, which he co-wrote. Petaluma's own Leslie Sbrocco won the best Local Television Food Show award for Check, Please! Bay Area, which she hosts. Paul Draper snagged the most Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional Award for Ridge Vineyards in Healdsburg and Cupertino. Congrats to all those who made it onto the foregoing list.
We just wish we'd been there to taste the cotton candy foie gras . . .
Meanwhile, Slow Food movement founder Carlo Petrini mosies to Sonoma to proselytize his exquisitely simple ideas about food: that it be good, clean and fair. Twined with Marxian ideas about responsibility, his plan suggests that we consider ourselves co-producers, rather than simple consumers, of food. Petrini's new book Slow Food Nation (Rizzoli; $22.50) hit stands this month. He arrives on Saturday, May 12, for a chef's luncheon with Cafe La Haye's John McReynolds, the General's Daughter's Preston Dishman and Harvest Moon Cafe's Nick Demarest at the Sonoma Community Center, 276 E. Napa St., Sonoma. 12:30pm-2pm. $75. 707.939.9394. Afterwards, this champion slowpoke speaks in conversation with famed cheesemaker Ig Vella and die-hard chicken advocate Bobby Cannard Jr. in At Our Table at the Sebastiani Theatre, 476 First St. East, Sonoma. 2:30pm-4pm. $8. 707.939.1779.
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