The James Beard Foundation will not be doling out any official chef and restaurant awards this year, but we still plan to tune in Friday September 25, as they broadcast live via Twitter from Chicago starting at 6:30 pm CT to celebrate previously announced honorees, such as America’s Classic winner Vera’s Backyard Bar-B-Que in Brownsville, Texas.
It might be a muted celebration, but we can still cook, right? Our plan is to honor a few of this year’s Southern nominees by pulling from their own recipes. To start, we’ll toast the evening with a Mixed Signals cocktail gleaned from Miles Macquarrie of Atlanta’s Kimball House, which was nominated for Outstanding Bar Program. If you can’t sit at their supremely hospitable bar, it might be the next best thing. Then, a hearty salad for Friday night? Why not. Chef Ashleigh Shanti of Benne on Eagle in Asheville, a Rising Star Chef of the Year nom, delivers this collard green and field pea salad. Pair that with her roasted sweet potatoes doused in a sorghum fish sauce for just a glimmer of her restaurant’s mission.
Chef Michael Gulotta of MOPHO and the currently closed Maypop (and nominee for Best Chef: South) inspired us with this brown butter tart with cafe sua da ice cream. No chicory coffee? Any darkly roasted bean will do. Or, maybe you’re in New Orleans? Drop by and congratulate Joaquin Rodas and the team in person at Bacchanal for their Outstanding Wine Program nod.
If you’re holiday planners like us, you’ll bookmark this hoppin’ john recipe from Olamaie in Austin, Texas; chef Michael Fojtasek made the nominee list for Best Chef: Texas. Or pick up a copy of Toni Tipton-Martin’s Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking, winner of this year’s American cookbook category; you’ll want to put her eponymous gingerbread onto your family’s table this year.
However you choose to participate, keep in mind that all restaurants, chefs, bartenders, back-of-house and front-of-house teams deserve the applause right now—as well as any support you can give.
- by Erin Byers Murray