Beard Foundation officially opened the James Beard House “to provide a center for the culinary arts and to continue to foster the interest James Beard inspired in all aspects of food, its preparation presentation, and of course, enjoyment,” according to a press release issued that day. In 1990, the James Beard Foundation made another leap forward by establishing the James Beard Foundation Awards for excellence in food and beverage and related industries.When the first awards were given out in 1991, New Orleans chef Emeril Lagasse won Best Restaurant and Chef in the Southeast that year. (He opened Emeril’s in the Warehouse District in New Orleans in 1990.) Since then,NewOrleans’chefs and restaurateurs have garnered their fair share of awards and recognition by the James Beard Foundation. Just this past May at the awards event in Chicago, Justin Devillier of La Petite Grocery snagged the Best Chef South award. The prize for Best New Restaurant was bestowed to Shaya of New Orleans. (Last year Chef Alon Shaya, co-owner and chef at Domenica and Pizza Domenica, came home with the Best Chef South award.) Two of my idols,Leah Chase (Queen of Creole Cuisine) and Ella Brennan copped the prestigious James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 and 2009 respectively. I was thrilled to be in attendance at the 2009 event as I was nominated along with my co-editor Judy Walker, former food editor of The Times-Picayune, for our book Cooking Up a Storm . I had my turn to walk the red carpet with none other than Jacques Pepin! My favorite part of Ella’s acceptance speech was when she quipped, “I didn’t know they gave awards for having fun.”
Beard on Bread James Beard produced more than 20 cookbooks during his career.
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