In her opening remarks at last night’s James Beard Foundation Media Awards, Susan Ungaro, president of the JBF, called the assembled array of journalistic luminaries "our Golden Globes." Since there’s apparently some sort of law that no article can be written about the JBF Chef & Restaurant Awards (the bigger-deal sibling of the Media Awards, taking place tonight at Avery Fisher Hall) without calling them "the Oscars of the food world," it’s an apt analogy. Like the Golden Globes, the JBF Media Awards are slightly less glitzy, slightly less black-tie, and involve a sit-down multicourse dinner with seemingly random table assignments and massive quantities of alcohol.
If you were following our live-tweet (complete with hilarious pictures!), you already know that the evening didn’t go so well for Chicago: none of our hometown nominees got the medal. The first three awards announced were for newspaper journalism, so we didn’t have too long to hold our breath about the fates of Monica Eng, Phil Vettel, and the Tribune as a whole. For TV Food Segment, Steve Dolinsky lost out to CBS News’s profile of salt, and we had to wait all the way until the second-to-last award of the evening to learn, disappointingly, that Mike Sula and the Whole Hog Project were overlooked in favor of Ruth Reichl and Gourmet’s Test Kitchen web series.
Who did win — and some awards-announcement drama — after the jump!
There were some big winners — Alan Richman, nominated four times, came home with two awards, and Gourmet’s Ruth Reichl won twice for herself and took the stage twice on behalf of her authors. New York’s Adam Platt took home the medal for Restaurant Reviews — seeing himself projected larger-than-life on the jumbotron behind the podium, the anonymous critic joked "I’m Adam Platt, but I don’t really look like this."
With the final award announced only an hour or so behind schedule, the evening went remarkably smoothly. The only moment of drama came when Top Chef: Masters host Kelly Choi, up on stage to announce the winners of "Audio Webcast or Radio Show," accidentally read out the winners of the brand-new blog category instead, prompting shrieks of unexpected victory from the ladies of Sunset magazine, who won for their project The One-Blog Diet. "I didn’t get it — I honestly wasn’t sure what was going on," Sunset’s Erica Ehmsen told us. "Though I kind of feel like I missed the anticipation. Still, it definitely took the edge off." Sunset’s Margo True took a different perspective: "We were given by the grace of god 30 seconds’ notice that we were going to have to go on stage. We had time to put on our lipstick!"
Leonard Lopate, the actual winner of the Audio/Radio award, interrupted to congratulate the ladies: "You must have been ready to have a heart attack when they read your names! Oh, but it’s not [Kelly Choi’s] fault. I’ve emceed, and you just read the cards. I know what it’s like to win — this is my third time. But that first one, I almost had a heart attack."
Winners: The 2009 James Beard Foundation Media Awards:
Broadcast Media Awards
For television, webcast, and radio programs aired in 2008.
AUDIO WEBCAST OR RADIO SHOW
WNYC, The Leonard Lopate Show: 3-Ingredient Challenge
Hosts: Leonard Lopate and Rozanne Gold
Area: New York City Metro, Online
Producer: Sarah English
Savoring the Best of World Flavors, Volume III: Vietnam and the Island of Sicily
Host: Jonathan Coleman
Producers: John Barkley, Kenneth Wilmoth, Greg Drescher, Steve Jilleba, and Janet Fletcher
TELEVISION FOOD SHOW, NATIONAL AND LOCAL Lidia’s Italy: Sweet Napoli
Host: Lidia Matticchio Bastianich
Producers: Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, Julia Harrison, and Shelly Burgess Nicotra
TELEVISION FOOD SEGMENT, NATIONAL AND LOCAL
CBS News Sunday Morning: In a Pinch
Host: Martha Teichner
Producers: Jon Carras and David Small
For articles published in English in 2008.
NEWSPAPER FEATURE WRITING ABOUT RESTAURANTS AND/OR CHEFS
Katy McLaughlin The Wall Street Journal “Sushi Bullies”
NEWSPAPER FEATURE WRITING WITHOUT RECIPES
Kristen Hinman Riverfront Times “The Pope of Pork”
NEWSPAPER FEATURE WRITING WITH RECIPES
“High on the Hairy Hogs: Super-Succulent Imports are Everything U.S. Pork Isn’t”
NEWSPAPER FOOD SECTION
The Washington Post
MAGAZINE FEATURE WRITING ABOUT RESTAURANTS AND/OR CHEFS Ruth Reichl Gourmet “The Last Time I Saw Paris…”
MAGAZINE FEATURE WRITING WITH RECIPES
“What is Southern?”*
MAGAZINE FEATURE WRITING WITHOUT RECIPES
Alan Richman GQ “Made (Better) in Japan”
New York Magazine
“Faux French,” “The Mario of Midtown,” “Corton on Hudson”
REPORTING ON NUTRITION OR FOOD-RELATED CONSUMER ISSUES
Rachael Moeller Gorman EatingWell “How to Feed Your Mind”
BLOG FOCUSING ON FOOD, BEVERAGE, RESTAURANTS, OR NUTRITION
Erika Ehmsen, Elizabeth Jardina, Rick LaFrentz, Amy Machnak, Johanna Silver, Margaret Sloan, and Margo True Our One-Block Diet Oneblockdiet.sunset.com
“A Papaya Grows in Holyoke,” “Beyond the McIntosh,” “Half a Loaf”
WRITING ON SPIRITS, WINE, OR BEER
“Viva La Revolucion!”
WEBSITE FOCUSING ON FOOD, BEVERAGE, RESTAURANTS, OR NUTRITION
Epicurious.com Tanya Steel
MULTIMEDIA FOOD JOURNALISM
“The Test Kitchen”
M.F.K. FISHER DISTINGUISHED WRITING AWARD
Aleksandra Crapanzano Gourmet “Benedictions”