David Chang of Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York and Paul Kahan of Blackbird, Chicago, were last night named joint winners of the accolade for Outstanding Chef in the U.S. at the James Beard Foundation awards.
The Outstanding Restaurant prize went to Blue Hill, New York; Rising Star Chef was Danny Bowien, of Mission Chinese Food, San Francisco and New York; and Best New Restaurant went to State Bird Provisions, San Francisco.
“This is the most fulfilling moment for me,” Dan Barber, Blue Hill’s executive chef and co-owner, said in an interview after receiving the award at New York’s Avery Fisher Hall. “I tend to be the cynical one about awards, but when you win one, you feel special.”
Among the regional Best Chef winners, Wylie Dufresne of WD-50 triumphed in New York and Stephanie Izard of the Girl & the Goat won in Chicago. Outstanding service went to Del Posto, New York.
Christopher Kostow, the chef at the Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena, California who won the award for Best Chef, West, said he hopes the prize will bring attention to his establishment located outside the San Francisco Bay Area. Meadowood’s cuisine has earned three Michelin stars (for exceptional cuisine) under Kostow’s leadership.
“We’re not in a major city, so one of our biggest goals is to get as many people to Meadowood as possible,” Kostow said in an interview.
The awards are the main event in the U.S. culinary calendar and are accompanied by a weekend of parties and other events attended by chefs and restaurateurs. They were established in 1990 to celebrate, preserve, and nurture America’s culinary heritage and diversity, the foundation’s Website says.
The winners were announced in a ceremony at the Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, in New York.
Chang, a Korean-American, has restaurants in New York, Sydney and Toronto. He’s worked in the kitchens of Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Daniel Boulud and Tom Colicchio and is known for his creative gastronomy as the chef-founder of Momofuku. Kahan represents a new wave of Chicago chefs. His father owned a delicatessen and a smokehouse.
“I’m in dumbstruck awe that this has happened to me,” said Chang, while sipping a bottle of beer with Kahan in the press room after the awards ceremony. “It’s really an award for the Momofuku team. There are so many amazing people working for us such as those in the front of the house, the prep cooks and the farmers and many others. It’s so nice to be honored.”
The Book, Broadcast & Journalism awards were announced on May 3. Cookbook of the Year was “Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America,” by Maricel E. Presilla (W.W. Norton & Company).
The winners included U.K.-based Nigel Slater for “Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard” (Ten Speed Press); Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi for “Jerusalem: A Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press); and Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding, and Jose Vouillamoz for “Wine Grapes: a Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties” (Ecco).
(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. He is U.K. and Ireland chairman of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. Opinions expressed are his own.)
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