"A Mediterranean Feast" by Santa Monica author Clifford A. Wright was named the best cookbook of the year Monday night at the 10th annual James Beard Foundation Awards in New York.
In his book, Wright presents a scholarly argument on the origins of Mediterranean cooking. Wright, a contributor to the Los Angeles Times Food section, focuses on the effect of the Arab expansion and its accompanying agricultural revolution as well as on the discovery of the New World. The book includes more than 500 recipes illustrating Wright's points.
"This book is an impressive original study of the cradle of food civilization and marks an important achievement in the field of culinary history," said Carol Haddix, chairwoman of the foundation's book awards committee.
Earlier in the year, "The French Laundry Cookbook" by Thomas Keller, Michael Ruhlman and Susie Heller was named best cookbook by another organization, the International Assn. of Culinary Professionals.
In other awards presented Monday, New York's David Bouley was named chef of the year, Chicago's Charlie Trotter's was named best restaurant and Gary Danko in San Francisco was named the best new restaurant. Best California chef was Judy Rodgers of Zuni Cafe in San Francisco.
Cookbook of the Year: "A Mediterranean Feast" by Clifford A. Wright (William Morrow, $35); Americana: "American Home Cooking" by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison (Broadway Books, $30); Chefs and Restaurants: "The Kitchen Sessions With Charlie Trotter" (Ten Speed Press, $29.95); General: "Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home" by Julia Child and Jacques Pepin (Alfred Knopf, $40); International: "Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian" (Clarkson Potter, $40); Single Subject: "The Cook's Illustrated Complete Book of Poultry" (Clarkson Potter, $32.50); Writing on Food: "A Mediterranean Feast" by Clifford A. Wright (William Morrow, $35); Baking and Desserts: "The Bread Bible" by Beth Hensperger (Chronicle Books, $32.50); Entertaining and Special Occasions: "Entertaining 1-2-3" by Rozanne Gold (Little, Brown & Co., $27.95); Healthy Focus: "A Spoonful of Ginger" by Nina Simonds (Alfred Knopf, $30); Reference: "The Oxford Companion to Food" by Alan Davidson (Oxford University Press, $60); Wine and Spirits: "Terroir" by James E. Wilson (University of California Press, $39.95); Best Food Photography: "New Food Fast" by Petrina Tinslay (Whitecap Books, $17.95).