After an unintentional hiatus, I’m back just in time to bring you news of some of the most anticipated foodie events of the year. With the lovely hues of fall foliage changing comes the celebrations and awards announcements of some of the most talented food professionals in the country.
In a little more than a week, the second annual Food History Gala will take place at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. This year’s event promises to be every bit as spectacular as last year’s inaugural gala. In coordination with the Smithsonian’s partnership with the Julia Child Foundation, the gala serves as the event where the Julia Child Award is presented to that year’s recipient. In 2015, the first Julia Child Award was given to none other than Julia’s longtime friend and TV-partner, Jacques Pepin. The night’s festivities kicked off with a cocktail hour among some of the food history exhibits that are the focal point of the Smithsonian’s Food History Week while foodies and friends chatted and reminisced. Everyone was then ushered to their seats for the main event; a three course dinner inspired by the relationship of Julia Child and Jacques Pepin. It was an evening filled with stories of both Jacques and Julia told by Sara Moulton and Marcus Samuelsson and comical narrative from Alton Brown, acting as the evening’s emcee. Daniel Boulud was responsible for the menu and also shared several anecdotes about the honoree.
After a sincerely touching video montage about Julia Child, Jacques Pepin was presented with his award to a roaring round of applause. His genuine gratitude and sincerely eloquent words were riddled with jokes about having perhaps a glass or two too many of wine with dinner. Sharing simple and honest memories from when he was peeling potatoes as a young boy in France to moving to the United States and his years spent alongside Julia Child. At 80 years old, he spoke about still learning new things and loving the art of cooking just as much as he ever had. He thanked those who had come to join this celebration and left the stage with a crowd of 300 people all on their feet.
At this year’s second annual Food History Gala, Rick Bayless is being honored. Arguably one of the most well-known authorities on Mexican cuisine in America, he has a resume that would impress most. The gala’s menu will be created by the honoree and undoubtedly include a Mexican flare. Kim Severson will be the acting Master of Ceremonies while Jose Andres and Scott Simon will the evening’s featured speakers. (Hopefully there will be a follow-up piece to this, if I manage to get a ticket…)
The other big events that are now impending are the James Beard Awards. The JBF sent out their annual email today announcing that you can now submit your nominees. It is just the start down the long road to the ceremonies in April and May, but this is where it all begins. For those that don’t know, the James Beard Awards are the culinary Oscars and the recognition of being nominated alone is an honor you can proudly hang your hat on for years to come. Nominations are being accepted for every category, and most of the deadlines for submission are in December and January. In March, they will announce the final list of nominees before the Media awards in New York in April and the Restaurant and Chefs awards in Chicago in May. The culinary industry will be buzzing in anticipation until the nominees are announced and then the frenzy will kick in to overdrive until the ceremonies in the spring.
Some people love the fall because of the change in weather, football or pumpkin spice lattes, but for me? The fall means exciting culinary events and new chefs being deemed worthy. As someone who once aspired to be among that crowd…it’s the most wonderful time of the year.