AND THE WINNERS ARE: It was a good night for women -- and Washingtonians -- at Monday's 14th annual James Beard Foundation Awards, which bestowed numerous top honors on those groups at a ceremony at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City: Judy Rodgers, chef-owner of San Francisco's Zuni Cafe, was named Outstanding Chef; Ann Cashion of Washington's Cashion's Eat Place and Johnny's Half Shell was named Best Chef/Mid-Atlantic; Allison Vines-Rushing of Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar in New York City was given the Rising Star Chef honor; Emily Luchetti of San Francisco's Farallon was named Outstanding Pastry Chef; and Karen MacNeil, a wine writer and instructor at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley, was named Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional.
Robert Egger, the founder of D.C. Central Kitchen in the District, received the organization's Humanitarian of the Year Award. Since its inception, Egger's food recovery and meal distribution program, a model for other cities around the country, has combined more than 3.5 million pounds of food to feed the city's hungry. And Ben's Chili Bowl -- longtime home to the half-smoke on U Street NW -- was one of four eateries from around the country to join the ranks of the America's Classics, given to restaurants "renowned for their timeless appeal."
In other major categories recognizing excellence and achievement in the culinary profession, Alice Waters, the mother of California cuisine, received the Lifetime Achievement Award for her mentorship of chefs at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., and for her work to promote sustainable agriculture; New York's Chanterelle was named Outstanding Restaurant; Bradley Ogden in Las Vegas received the Best New Restaurant award; Eleven Madison Park in New York took away the Outstanding Service honor; and Babbo, also in New York, got the Outstanding Wine Service award.
More than 60 awards were announced at the gala, which is named for the late cooking teacher and cookbook author James Beard, considered the "dean of American cooking." Recipients are selected by more than 600 food and beverage industry professionals who vote by confidential ballot. The nonprofit foundation is dedicated to furthering the practice and appreciation of the culinary arts.