Hope everyone’s doing well and enjoying spring so far. As you may know, we just moved to Columbus, Ohio! I’ll tell you more about it in a different blog post, but today I want to focus on an amazing experience I just had this week! I attended the James Beard Awards and Gala in Chicago this past Monday and it was all and everything I expected.
About the James Beard Foundation
“The James Beard Foundation promotes good food for good™. For more than 30 years, the James Beard Foundation has highlighted the centrality of food culture in our daily lives. Through the James Beard Awards, unique dining experiences at the James Beard House and around the country, scholarships, hands-on learning, and a variety of industry programs that educate and empower leaders in our community, the Foundation has built a platform for chefs and asserted the power of gastronomy to drive behavior, culture, and policy change around food.”
About the JBF Awards
"The JBF Awards recognize all culinary professionals of the United States. Known as the “Oscars of the Food Industry”, these awards are given to chefs, hospitality groups and members of different media channels that have made an extraordinary job each and every year. Media awards are usually hosted in New York City and the Chef and Restaurant awards in the city of Chicago." - From James Beard Foundation Website
About my experience
I’m sure you understand how excited I was to be able to attend this event. I was literally in the same room with the most creative, inventive and revolutionary minds of the culinary world of the United States, it was just a-ma-zing.
For me, it all began realizing I didn’t have everything I needed for the night, so I basically made a quick trip to the closest place where I could find studs for my tuxedo, it was a black-tie event, so I had to shower and look decent in a proper shirt. Invitation said I had to be there at 5:30 for 30 minutes of red carpet so that’s what I did.
I knew I was going to be super star-strucked already, I mean… a room full of people I really admire, right? HOWEVER, as soon as I got to the red carpet this is the first couple I saw; yes, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Zooey Deschanel. Jesse was the show’s host for second year in a row and Zooey was there to present a few categories and to impress us all with her beautifulness, of course.
The show started with Jesse Tyler Ferguson being as funny as he is, doing an amazing job.
Chef Kwame Onwuachi from Kith and Kin at Washington, DC won the Rising Star award, and gave us an amazing and moving speech.
Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago, showing his support -as always- to the food industry in Chicago.
Gail Simmons talked a little bit about the Leadership Awards that happened a day before this gala. To read more about this, please go to the James Beard Award website.
As CEO of the James Beard Foundation, Clare Reinchenbach gave a strong and very diversity-oriented speech, very uplifting for everyone, especially the female audience.
Without a doubt, Chef Ann Kim delighted us all with the best speech of all! She won the Best Chef Midwest award and SHE DEFINITELY OWNED IT!
Chef Elizabeth Falkner, presenting.
Jesse and Zooey about to present the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award.
Chef Patrick O’Connell, a five-time James Beard Award winner, a 3-star Michelin chef and owner of The Inn at Washington, VA, winning the 2019 JBF Lifetime Achievement Award.
This is Jesse Tyler Ferguson just showing off his legs, LOL.
The final and most important award was for Chef Ashley Christensen from Poole’s Diner in Raleigh, NC. Here the Chef owning her 2019 James Beard Foundation Outstanding Chef award.
What else can I say? I honestly felt very honored to be part of this event, a night that meant THE WORLD for all of the nominees and winners, equally.
Now let me show you a small portion of my end of the night.
I finally got to meet Justin Chapple, we’ve been Facebook friends for years! He’s a cookbook author and Editor at large of Food & Wine magazine.
This is me, being AWKWARD AS HELL with Zooey Deschanel! I love, love her! Don’t you all?
This is me, before the party started.
And once the party was over.