“The James Beard Foundation’s mission is to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone”
The James Beard awards season is here! While the full slate of this years winners have yet to be named, first round honors have been awarded and celebrate those chefs who pioneered culinary food trends in the organic, farm-to-table movement and created cafe business models to alleviate world hunger.
Chef Nora Pouillon will receive the James Beard foundation 2017 Lifetime Achievement award, and One World Restaurant founder Denise Cerreta will receive the Humanitarian of the Year award.
Both of the first round 2017 award honorees follow the same philosophy espoused by James Beard – that creating food is, at essence, an act of beneficence. Early in his career, Beard proudly scavenged native blackberries and bought locally caught salmon from fishing boats to source his culinary masterpieces, championing the food traditions of his native land. Like previous winners of James Bear awards, Pouillon and Cerreta each take on this vast and grand tradition and made it something unique of their own.
The 2017 James Beard Awards Gala will take place on Monday, May 1, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, where the rest of the winners will be announced and bestowed their culinary achievement medallions. 2016 Bay Area semifinalists and chefs include David Kinch – Manresa, Christopher Kostow – The Restaurant at Meadowood, and Michael Tusk – Quince. We’ll post the full slate of winners once they’re announced. In the meantime, get to know the two extraordinary chefs who snagged first honors this year:
Nora Pouillon, Lifetime Achievement award
The Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement award is bestowed upon a person in the industry whose lifetime body of work has had a positive and long-lasting impact on the way we eat, cook, and think about food in America.
Nora Pouillon, who immigrated from Austria to the United States in the 1960’s, opened the famed Washington, D.C. based Nora’s in 1979, the first certified organic restaurant in the United States, creating the benchmark that at least 95% of all ingredients must be produced by certified organic farmers, growers and suppliers. Just as Alice Waters did with Chez Panisse on the West Coast, Pouillon fundamentally changed the landscape of East Coast cuisine, championing her organic and locally sourced product and inculcating generations of chefs with her philosophy in the kitchen.
East Coast locavorism owes much to the 37 years of magical meals coming from Pouillon’s kitchen. Entertainingly, in keeping with the theme of “restaurant-fresh” locavorism, Pouillon’s business partner even went so far as to convert his old Mercedes to biodiesel, and uses the spent fryer oil from the restaurant to fuel his commute.
Nora’s Restaurant offers a la carte and chef’s tasting menus available with wine pairings. The winelist is comprised of organic and biodynamic producers from France, Italy, Austria and the US.
She shares her culinary insights in her 2015 Memoir “My Organic life: How a Pioneering Chef Changed the Way We Eat Today”
Denise Cerreta, Humanitarian of the Year award
“The Humanitarian of the Year award is given to an individual or organization whose work in the realm of food has improved the lives of others and benefited society at large”
Chef, Café owner and social entrepreneur Denise Cerreta founded her One World Café concept in Salt Lake City, Utah. One World Everybody Eats is dedicated to ending world hunger by sharing its pay-what-you-can community café model with communities around the world. Cafés in the network operate predominately with volunteers, sourcing product locally and often through donations. The café’s menus feature no prices: diners are encouraged to pay what they can. Extraordinarily, the eateries serve nearly 4,000 meals a day, or more than 1.4 million meals a year.
There are more than 60 community cafes around the world that have adopted the One World Everybody Eats model, including Panera Bread’s Panera Cares Cafes and the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Kitchens.
Check out the model in action: https://www.oneworldeverybodyeats.org/news/2017/1/13/mosaics-cafe-makes-national-news