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The 2011 James Beard Awards


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Some of DC's best chefs and restaurants are getting the recognition they deserve. On Feb. 17th the foundation announced the semifinalists for 2011.

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A quick summary of the local places getting love:

Best New Restaurant:

Kushi Izakaya & Sushi, Washington, D.C.

Estadio, Washington, D.C.

Outstanding Chef:

José Andrés, minibar by José Andrés

Outstanding Pastry Chef:

Huw Griffiths, Tabard Inn

Outstanding Restaurant:

Palena, Washington, D.C.

Outstanding Restauranteur:

Ashok Bajaj, Knightsbridge Restaurant Group, Washington, D.C. (701, Ardeo + Bardeo, Bibiana, The Bombay Club, The Oval Room, and Rasika)

Outstanding Service:

Marcel’s, Washington, D.C.

Restaurant Eve, Alexandria VA

Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional:

Todd Thrasher, Restaurant Eve, Alexandria, VA

Rising Star Chef of the Year:

Nicholas Stefanelli, Bibiana, Washington, D.C.

Best Chef - Mid Atlantic:

Cathal Armstrong, Restaurant Eve, Alexandria, VA

Bertrand Chemel, 2941 Restaurant, Falls Church, VA

Tony Conte, The Oval Room, Washington, D.C.

Johnny Monis, Komi, Washington, D.C.

Peter Pastan, Obelisk, Washington, D.C.

Vikram Sunderam, Rasika, Washington, D.C.

Congrats to all the semifinalists! It's pretty rarefied air these people and establishments are in.

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Jose Andres won the 2011 Outsanding Chef of the Year last night from JBF for Minibar.

When was the last time Mr. Andres was at Mini Bar without cameras being present? The list of winners strikes me as a who’s who of the toque sniffing establishment and celebrity chef pop culture made so popular by Conde Nast/Food Network/A&E et al.

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When was the last time Mr. Andres was at Mini Bar without cameras being present? The list of winners strikes me as a who’s who of the toque sniffing establishment and celebrity chef pop culture made so popular by Conde Nast/Food Network/A&E et al.

Yes, but the chef/owner of Lotus of Siam in Vegas won. Huge!

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When was the last time Mr. Andres was at Mini Bar without cameras being present? The list of winners strikes me as a who’s who of the toque sniffing establishment and celebrity chef pop culture made so popular by Conde Nast/Food Network/A&E et al.

You could also just offer congratulations to the winners. That, in addition to being snarky and sounding jaded, is an option too, albeit one that is not exercised very much on this board.

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You could also just offer congratulations to the winners. That, in addition to being snarky and sounding jaded, is an option too, albeit one that is not exercised very much on this board.

Please feel free to congratulate them if you please, but I think that you are confusing snark with vitriol. Should we continue to act as if the Beard House is anything more than a bastion for wealthy New Yorkers to feast on the creations of chefs from around the country while not having to soil their shoes with the dust of such contemptible burgs such as Cleveland, St. Louis, Dallas, or Knoxville, but instead just focus on the self-aggrandizing awards show that they put on every year?

I am really not sure what is more useless to me as a dinner seeing that an absentee chef has won the culinary equivalent to an ESPY; you can call that snark if you like. Speaking of absentee chefs winning the big award, do you think that Andre would have won if they also included Café Atlantico as part of their rating as opposed to just chef’s table – albeit with a different name, but who are we kidding?

I believe that when George C. Scott said about the Academy Awards, [t]he whole thing is a goddam meat parade, I don’t want any part of it” rings true in our cultural morass dominated by the Oscars, Teen Choice Awards, Food Network Award Show, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions.

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You are bitter. I get it. I don't care to hear about it but you can post what you like and I can always choose more carefully what I read.

So someone that takes a dim view of ego-driven frivolities is by definition bitter? Glad you know me so well. I guess I will have to look elsewhere for tacos.

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Regardless, a nondescript Thai restaurant in a rundown neighborhhood shopping center a mile off of the Strip in Vegas has the Best Chef in a major Beard category. Not West Hollywood or Santa Monica but an ethnic patchwork of an aging, plain strip center with several stores that look like intown incarnations of the Bunny Ranch. Lotus of Siam is a GREAT restaurant that just received huge national recognition. For all those on this board who go to Vegas to eat this is where you should REALLY be going. (Take a cab and reserva a month in advance.) Enough about Aria and the Wynn; Robuchon, Gagnaire, Guy Savoy and others. I cannot applaud this any louder! Formica never had a finer plate rest on it.

Beard got this one right.

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You are bitter. I get it. I don't care to hear about it but you can post what you like and I can always choose more carefully what I read.

Add me to the bitterness list (and your ignore list). I'm confounded by Andres' success. There isn't a single of restaurant his that I'd like to eat at again. To me he's a pioneer as far as DC is concerned, but so what? E.g., beta preceded VHS, but now they're both obsolete. Part of my problem with Andres is that he's resting on his laurels here while he dazzles newbies enamored with his pioneering ways in LA and LV. Outstanding chef for bringing the same concept to another locale? I think Beard missed the boat on this one.

On the other hand, based on my personal experience, Becker in Minneapolis and Solomonov in Philly deserve to win. My meals there (no special treatment, just ordered off the regular menu) were some of the best meals I've had.

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You are bitter. I get it. I don't care to hear about it but you can post what you like and I can always choose more carefully what I read.

I guess you need to add me to the list too, but I have enjoyed meals at his restaurants. I don't see it as bitter, but rather the current state of affairs. Is Minibar so much better now then when it originally opened almost 10 years ago? Was there a time requirement for this award?

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Lotus of Siam is a GREAT restaurant that just received huge national recognition. For all those on this board who go to Vegas to eat this is where you should REALLY be going. (Take a cab and reserva a month in advance.) Beard got this one right.

i agree star of siam is an interesting thai restaurant. i have eaten there on three occasions, the last time a little over a year ago. but do you really need to reserve a month in advance? if so, times have changed. I just showed up, by myself, and never waited more than 15 minutes or so.

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i agree star of siam is an interesting thai restaurant. i have eaten there on three occasions, the last time a little over a year ago. but do you really need to reserve a month in advance? if so, times have changed. I just showed up, by myself, and never waited more than 15 minutes or so.

I believe this is directly related to when a large trade show is in town as well as the night of the week. We were there on a weeknight a year or so ago and people around 9 when we left were seated with just a short wait. Saturday night of that week countless people were turned away around the same time. Between ours' and another trade show there were about 75,000 people attending both. A month is probably an exaggeration on my part but I would still call two weeks in advance especially now that the chef/owner has won a Beard award. It is going to be even more difficult to get in.

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I guess you need to add me to the list too, but I have enjoyed meals at his restaurants. I don't see it as bitter, but rather the current state of affairs. Is Minibar so much better now then when it originally opened almost 10 years ago? Was there a time requirement for this award?

Or Peter Pastan's nomination for Obelisk this year... shouldn't he have won 20 years ago? Why decide to nominate him this year in particular?* The Beard Awards always seem random.

*For the record, I like Obelisk a lot and think it's too far under the radar here.

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