Beard awards: ‘The fries boast a dark and crackly exterior. Creamy white potato fluff lurks within.’

A compendium of food, dining and beverage trend information from the U.S. and the world

Reported by John Lehndorff:

The James Beard Foundation announced the finalists today in the James Beard Awards, the Oscars of the cookbook, food writing and restaurant worlds.  Foodies who were delighted that so many great Colorado chefs, restaurants and wine people were named in the long list of semi-finalists a month or so ago will be equally disappointed by their absence from the list of finalists. Awhile back, when I was one of the writers contributing my opinion on which chefs should be included in the Best Chef: Southwest and other categories, we also got a “semi-finalists” list but it was never publicized … and with very good reason. We knew it didn’t really count. It was a wish list of everyone’s favorites. It was designed to mollify us folks in Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Utah. We always knew that the powers that be would feature chefs and restaurants from Texas and the Arizona resorts.

Now the finalist list is also heavily weighted towards Las Vegas. Of the five Best Chef: Southwest finalists in 2010, one – Ryan Hardy at Aspen’s Montagna, is from Colorado, three cook in Vegas and one in Houston. None from Denver. None from Vail. None from Boulder. It was good to see Boulder’s Frasca and Bobby Stuckey as part of the Final Five in the Outstanding Wine Service category. Seattle Weekly’s Jason Sheehan is nominated in the Restaurant Review category for work he did at Denver’s Westword. Former Golden, CO-based caterer Lynne Rossetto Kasper is nominated in the Radio Show Category for her consistently good Splendid Table public radio progran. I noticed several nominated books I’d love to read including Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States by Andrew Coe (Oxford University Press) and  Save the Deli by David Sax (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). And if I had to guess, I’d say that most of the nominated writers from the recently deceased Gourmet magazine will probably win in their categories simply for sentimental reasons. In the always heart-warming American Classics category, I most want to visit Al’s French Frys in South Burlington, VT. Here’s why:

“The restaurant’s secret … starts with Idaho or California russets and fries them twice in a combination of beef tallow and soy bean oil at between 300 and 400 degrees for a total of about seven minutes. … The fries boast a dark and crackly exterior. Creamy white potato fluff lurks within. Al’s fries are a benchmark and a bulwark against devolution, in a world where chefs who should know better resort to frozen, cotton-flannel fries, or moan about what a pain and torment it is to cook French fries from scratch.”

Pass the ketchup.

Read the full list of James Beard finalists at:


EVENT:  Professional (restaurants and bakeries) pie contest and public tasting March 27 in Denver: Info: www.gabbygourmet.com/pie.htm. Judges include John Lehndorff, former chief judge, National Pie Championships; Marty Meitus, former food editor, Rocky Mountain News.

Comments: lehndorffj@aol.com

Visit: www.johnlehndorff.com

Eat In Eat Out: Food trend forecast 2010: http://americanforecaster.com/

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