The 15th Annual James Beard Foundation Awards                

By Bettina Cirone

On May 2nd, at the Marriott Marquis Hotel, the 15th Annual James Beard Foundation Awards, chefs paid tribute to Julia Child.

Chef Jacques Pepin who won the Lifetime Achievement Award presented to him by Morley Safer, told Safer and wife Jane about his first encounter with Julia Child.  Jacques, who was fresh from France, did not quite get it when Julia told him:

“Jacques, I have a nice piece of tail for you.” when she then asked him to show her how he peeled the shell away from a lobster.   He did get the play on words when she told an audience while he was on her show some years later:  “It’s not Cock Monsieur, it’s Croque Monsieur”

Upon receiving his award, Pepin said it was his wife of 40 years who was his constant support who really deserved the award.

 Other winning chefs included Best NY Chef from Boulud and Mario Batali of Babbo, wearing orange clogs perhaps to match his thinning red hair. Batali came in as the winner of Outstanding Chef of the Year.  For our photo op, he carried his All Clad cookware sponsor’s frying pan over his shoulder like a tennis racquet.

The buffet dinner afterwards was stupendous with chefs tables from all over the USA serving some of the most amazing dishes I have ever tasted.  Especially notable were the banana flavored chocolate from Norman Love Confections of Fort Myers, Florida.  The bite sized chocolate morsels of many flavors were as beautifully designed as they were delicious.

 Most exceptional dessert was a savory egg mixed inside of an eggshell containing chocolate, caramel, egg, cream and sea salt which was the finest dessert I have ever tasted anywhere.  I went in backwards and never could wait on line for the main course of Julia Child’s favorite canard dish, but I did get a wonderful sample from Felidia Restorante which was a rice ball blended with an especially delicious melted cheese covered with fresh spring green vegetables.

 

Morley Safer and Jane with Chef Jacques Pepin Mario Batali Chef Owner of Babbo

 

Photographed by Bettina Cirone