NEW YORK -- Some of the most notable prizes given at the James Beard Foundation awards Monday night were those that were most overdue. Sonoma winemaker Merry Edwards won Wine and Spirits Professional for the first time after six nominations. Wylie DuFresne of WD-50 was named the best chef in New York after seven nominations. Dan Barber’s Blue Hill won best restaurant after 14 years. San Francisco legend Cecilia Chiang won the lifetime achievement award at 92 years of age, and Maguy LeCoze won outstanding restaurateur – the first woman ever.
It was that kind of a night at Lincoln Center and probably the only fitting climax was the one that actually happened – Paul Kahan of Blackbird in Chicago and David Chang of Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York tied for outstanding chef.
Southern California restaurants were shut out, though the Bay Area did fairly well. Best chef in the West honors went to Christopher Kostow of the Restaurant at Meadowood in the Napa Valley. San Francisco’s State Bird Provisions was voted the best new restaurant of the year, and Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese Food was voted rising star chef.
Del Posto, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s flagship restaurant in New York, won both the best service award and outstanding pastry chef for Brooks Headley.