The 2011 James Beard Awards
This morning I noticed an article on the James Beard Awards for chefs and restaurants. Sort of like the Oscars of cooking. It was very interesting to me, because I’d never seen anything about this before. I took a peek at the site for the awards, hoping to find what criteria they used, but there was nothing there, but a brief history of the awards. They’ve only been around since 1990, so they are still pretty young. Before that there were a couple other awards being offered, so they consolidated them into this one award. So, I’m clueless what criteria they used for any of the awards given.
The winning best new restaurant was abc kitchen in New York, NY. They are dedicated to using local and organic products whenever possible, and they are using fair trade for many things. I decided to visit the site and see what all the hoopla is about. I’m always interested to see what others think is an outstanding restaurant.
In looking over the pictures, it looks like a nice, but not ornate place to eat. Decorated in neutral tones with nice hardwood floors, but not anything really outstanding. The menu itself was not appealing to me. There were just a couple items that looked intriguing: roast carrot and avocado salad, crunch seeds, sour cream, and citrus; sugar snap pea salad with parmesan dressing and herbs; maybe the spinach and quinoa salad with shiitake mushrooms and goat cheese (without the mushrooms). The menu is very heavily laden with meat dishes, including the appetizers and “market table.”
One thing I find with most “in” restaurants is they seem to use such strange ingredients. I think they feel the startle factor when you see crispy pork belly, or buffalo mozzarella makes them seem exotic and unique. This may be true, but I see it as a sales gimmick. I mean jersey tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and basil pizza is still just a tomato and cheese pizza with basil. What makes jersey tomatoes special?
The one thing I noticed is that there were hardly any mid to small sized towns represented in any of the awards. Does that mean that we’re all eating substandard food when we go out, or that the awards committee doesn’t look to us as possibly having something that amazing…