May 5, 2009 / 2:30 AM / 10 years ago

New York chefs, restaurants dominate U.S. culinary awards

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - New York chefs and restaurants swept nearly all the top prizes at this year’s James Beard awards, the highest accolades in the U.S. culinary world, with “farm-to-table” pioneer Dan Barber crowned chef of the year.

Chef Dan Barber of the U.S. addresses the audience during the Madrid Fusion 5th International Summit of Gastronomy in Madrid January 16, 2007. REUTERS/Victor Fraile

Barber beat fellow New Yorker Tom Colicchio, Washington-based Jose Andres, and Paul Kahan of Chicago to be named the top U.S. chef, while eatery Jean Georges, the flagship of chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, was named the outstanding restaurant.

Barber is considered a pioneer of the “farm-to-table” restaurant movement with its emphasis on seasonal ingredients produced by local farmers.

One of his two restaurants, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, is located on a farm in upstate New York, while its sister restaurant, Blue Hill, is in New York City.

“The artisanal work he has been doing at Blue Hill and Stone Barns has received national attention so we are not surprised that his peers have recognized his contribution,” said Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation.

Chef Nate Appleman from A16 in San Francisco was named the rising star chef in the awards that honor professionals in the food and beverage industries.

Jean Georges, a Michelin three-star New York French eatery, won outstanding U.S. restaurant, while Momofuku Ko, a Michelin two-star establishment, also in New York, nabbed the best new restaurant prize.

Both competed against other restaurants in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Maine and Birmingham, Alabama.

New York chefs and restaurants also garnered the foundation’s outstanding U.S. restaurateur, pastry chef, wine service and service awards.

“The fact that New York had a great showing this year in the winner’s category is simply the result of how the judges — who are the best of the best past winners — voted this year,” said Ungaro.

Although the foundation celebrated “women in food” this year, only one female won a top prize. Gina DePalma, of Babbo in New York, was recognized as top pastry chef.

Women fared better in book and media categories.

Jennifer McLagan’s “Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes” won cookbook of the year.

The James Beard awards, which are based on votes by people in the restaurant industry, were established in 1990 to recognize achievements in a list of categories including culinary professions, food writing and media.

Reporting by Richard Leong; editing by Patricia Reaney

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