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NEW YORK More than 1,600 of the American restaurant industry's biggest stars packed into the Broadway Ballroom at the Marriott Marquis for the 11th annual James Beard Foundation awards, also known as the “Oscars of the food world.” The show was the culmination of a weekend of events and parties that also included the foundation's journalism awards, which were presented Sunday night at the Grand Hyatt. A total of 64 awards were presented by the foundation and its major sponsors American Express, KitchenAid, Viking Range, Illy, Perrier Group, All-Clad Metalcrafters, D'Artagnan Cervena, Dolce Winery, RestaurantTrade, Grey Poupon, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, Sub-Zero Freezer Company and Bertolli Olive Oil.
Jonathan Scharer and Leane Romeo of Overland Entertainment produced the awards show, which was hosted by John Ritter. Despite a few technical glitches with some filler music that interrupted early award winners during their speeches, the show ran relatively smoothly through its 49-award, nearly three-hour program. New York culinary favorites Tom Colicchio of Gramercy Tavern and Craft; Mario Batali of Esca, Babbo and Lupa; Michael Romano of Union Square Cafe; and Alain Ducasse of Alain Ducasse were loudly cheered as they accepted awards. An especially moving moment was when Jennifer LeRoy accepted the Outstanding Restaurant Design award for her father Warner LeRoy's posthumous win for his redesign of the Russian Tea Room.
By the end of the show, everyone was hungry, especially Ritter, who eagerly escaped the press room backstage to chow down on the tastings downstairs. Twenty-eight chefs from around the world served dishes to match the Wine Country Cuisines theme of the evening.
Among celebrity chefs who kept their cool despite the very hot, overcrowded tastings room were Bob Blumer of the Surreal Gourmet in Hollywood; Jack Czarnecki of the Joel Palmer House in Dayton, Ore.; Tetsuya Wakuda of Tetsuya's in Sydney, Australia; Dennis Leary of Rubicon in San Francisco; Kerry Sear of Cascadia in Seattle; Graham Brown of Cervena Council in Wellington, New Zealand; Kevin Shikami of the Outpost in Chicago and Carmen Quagliata of Tra Vigne in St. Helena, Calif.
They were joined by a host of New York chefs, including David Bouley of Bouley Bakery and Danube; Laurent Gras of Peacock Alley; Eric Di Domenico of La Caravelle; Harold Moore of Montrachet and Michael Lomonaco of Windows on the World and Wild Blue.
See a list of the restaurant and chef winners...
See a list of the journalism awards winners...
More about the after-party at Esca...