SOURCE: The 2006 James Beard Foundation Awards

January 26, 2006 10:54 ET

The 2006 James Beard Foundation Awards to Honor the Culinary Legacy of New Orleans

NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- January 26, 2006 -- The James Beard Foundation will celebrate the culinary legacy of New Orleans at the 16th annual James Beard Foundation Awards, the nation's most prestigious recognition program for outstanding achievement within the fine food and beverage industry. The Awards ceremony and reception will take place Monday, May 8, at the New York Marriott Marquis.

Under the direction of Reception Executive Chef Susan Spicer, owner and executive chef of Bayona, 20 chefs from New Orleans and vicinity will prepare the dishes that have made New Orleans one of the greatest culinary destinations in the world (list of chefs is attached). Among the classics on the menu that night will be po'boys, red beans and rice, gumbo, and beignets. Modern flavors of New Orleans will be captured in contemporary dishes, such as grilled crawfish with creole cream cheese gnocchi and daube of Louisiana rabbit with white asparagus. The awards are attended by more than 1,500 culinary industry leaders.

The James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards will be given out at a separate dinner on May 7 at the Grand Hyatt New York. The theme of the Journalism Awards dinner is Cajun Country. Chef John Folse, owner of John Folse & Co., and author of the Encyclopedia of Creole and Cajun Cooking will oversee the dinner menu.

"The mission of the James Beard Foundation is to celebrate, preserve, and nurture America's culinary heritage and diversity in order to elevate the appreciation of our culinary excellence. New Orleans has faced insurmountable challenges since Hurricane Katrina, and its restaurant community has remained incredibly strong and committed in its efforts to rebuild. These are chefs who have supported the James Beard Foundation for the past 20 years by cooking at the Beard House and participating in fundraisers. We remain committed to helping our colleagues in New Orleans and to nurturing and furthering the preservation of this great city for years to come," said Dorothy Cann Hamilton, chairman of the James Beard Foundation.

A portion of the $375 admission price to the awards will be donated to a charitable fund established to support the rebuilding of New Orleans's restaurant community. In addition, for the first time, travel and food costs for each participating chef will be covered by the Foundation and award and event sponsors. Reservations to the May 8 awards can be made by calling 212-367-9490 or toll free 1-866-362-6442 after February 1. Admission is $375 ($325 for James Beard Foundation members). For additional information visit www.jamesbeard.org. The American Express® Card is the Official Card of the James Beard Foundation Awards.

"It is especially meaningful for the New Orleans restaurant community to be recognized at the James Beard Foundation Awards because so many of our industry colleagues and members of the media attend. It gives the New Orleans restaurant community the chance to say, 'We are back! Come visit us!'," said Susan Spicer, whose restaurant reopened last November. "Reopening has not been easy but... it's time for people to return to the Big Easy."

Edna Morris, president of the James Beard Foundation, said, "The Foundation's commitment to supporting the New Orleans restaurant community extends beyond the awards evening. Last fall, we partnered with the Southern Foodways Alliance, Council of Independent Restaurants and Starchefs.com to conduct a national outreach effort to assist displaced restaurant workers in finding jobs. We will provide whatever additional support we can to New Orleans chefs coming to cook at the Beard House. And a delegation from our awards committees will be meeting in New Orleans."

Joe Crea, chairman of the James Beard Foundation Awards Committee, confirmed that the Restaurant and Chef Awards Committee will meet in New Orleans in March. This is the first time one of the awards committee has met outside of New York. "We had discussed holding some of our committee meetings outside of New York for some time. After all, this is a national awards program with committee members from all around the country," explained Crea. He added that other awards committees (there are six different committees) may choose to meet outside New York if the circumstances allow it.

If New Orleans cooking is the "heart," then music is the "soul" of the city. The New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau will provide a live jazz band to add spice to the ballroom during the awards reception. "We are thrilled that The James Beard Foundation will recognize our city for its contribution to America's culinary heritage," said Stephen Perry, President and CEO of the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The James Beard Foundation Awards were established in 1990 to recognize and honor excellence and achievement in the culinary arts. More than 60 awards are presented in the areas of cookbook publishing, restaurants and chefs, broadcasting, food journalism, restaurant design, and lifetime achievement. The awards are judged by industry professionals who are assigned to judge specific award categories based on their expertise. Nominees for the 2006 awards will be announced March 16 and posted at www.jamesbeard.org.

Sponsors for the 2006 awards include: All-Clad Metalcrafters, American Express Company, Cattlemen's Beef Board and National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Chefwear, Contessa Premium Foods, Ecolab, Gallo of Sonoma, illy caffè North America, KitchenAid Home Appliances, the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau, S.Pellegrino, Southern Wine & Spirits NY, Viking Range Corporation, and Waterford Wedgwood.

The James Beard Foundation is a national not-for-profit organization based in New York City whose mission is to celebrate, preserve, and nurture America's culinary heritage and diversity in order to elevate the appreciation of our culinary excellence. In addition to presenting the James Beard Foundation Awards, the Foundation showcases chefs, authors, and winemakers through dinners and events at the James Beard House; provides scholarships for culinary students; participates in educational initiatives within the culinary industry; and preserves and maintains the James Beard House, the nation's premier culinary performance space. Membership in the James Beard Foundation is open to culinary professionals, as well as anyone who enjoys and supports the culinary arts. For membership, event and scholarship information, please visit www.jamesbeard.org or call 212-675-4984.

THE 2006 JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION AWARDS
GUEST CHEFS
(* A single asterisk indicates a chef cooking at the Journalism Awards
  Dinner on May 7, 2006)

Burt Benrud,Café du Monde
John Besh, Restaurant August
Frank Brigtsen, Brigtsen's
Leah Chase, Dooky Chase's Restaurant
Craig Cuccia, Café Reconcile
Ross Eirich, Galatoire's Restaurant
John Folse*, John Folse & Company, Gonzales (Journalism Awards Dinner
  Executive Chef)
Tenney Flynn, GW Fins
Adolfo Garcia, RioMar
John Harris, Lilette
Bob Iacovone, Cuvée
Emeril Lagasse, Emeril's Restaurant
Jacques Leonardi, Jacques-Imo's Café
Donald Link*, Cochon
Tory McPhail, Commander's Palace
Michael Regua, Antoine's
Cynthia Schneider*, Grapevine Café and Gallery, Donaldsonville
Willie Mae Seaton, Willie Mae's Scotch House
Kenneth Smith, Upperline Restaurant
Greg Sonnier*, Gabrielle Restaurant
Susan Spicer, Bayona Restaurant (Awards Reception Executive Chef)
Erik Venéy, Muriel's Jackson Square
Allison Vines-Rushing, Longbranch Restaurant, Abita Springs
Thomas Wolfe, Peristyle
New York Host Chefs: Anthony Arbeeny* and Eddie Wing Cheung*, Grand Hyatt
  Hotel

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