It wasn’t a bountiful year for Chicago nominees at the journalism/book side of the James Beard Foundation Awards, but there was one particularly choice cut: Mike Sula of the Chicago Reader was nominated for the organization’s main award for a distinguished piece of writing, the M.F.K. Fisher Award. Sula, who has been nominated twice before for ambitious cover stories on mulefoot pigs in 2009 and the charcuterie underground in 2010 (when he was bested by another Reader writer, the late Cliff Doerksen), was nominated for “Chicken of the Trees,” his by turns historical and hysterical account of squirrel eating in and out of Chicago. That makes five nominations in five years for the consistently excellent Reader food section.
Chicago received only three other journalism nominations, two to past winners: Steve Dolinsky was nominated for Best Television Segment for his Hungry Hound series on ABC 7, and Nina Barrett of WBEZ, whose Fear of Frying series won last year, saw it nominated again for Radio Show/Audio Webcast. The other was an instructional video webcast nomination to the Chicago Restaurant Pastry Competition, produced by JMPurePastry. So far as we could tell, there were no Chicago authors among the book nominations, though it’s possible there are some and we didn’t recognize them (we’re not counting Chicago-short-timer Marcus Samuelsson). And congrats from Chicago to the Grub Street mothership in New York, who were nominated for Best Group Blog.