New York City has a few horses in the “Kentucky Derby of Cuisine,” aka the James Beard Foundation Awards. The winners will be determined for the book, broadcast and journalism awards on Friday, May 2, and the chef and restaurant awards will be announced on Monday, May 5 (and you can watch them via livestream if you aren’t in attendance at the black-tie gala).
To get into the prediction fun, we are wagering which New Yorkers will win, place or show in several categories. The oddsmakers have handicapped the race as follows. Place your bets now before the window closes!
Category: Cookbook, American Cooking
The Nominees: I Love New York (Daniel Humm and Will Guidara); The New Midwestern Table: 200 Heartland Recipes (Amy Thielen); Pickles, Pigs and Whiskey: Recipes from My Favorite Food Groups and then Some (John Currence).
Favorite: I Love New York (Daniel Humm and Will Guidara). Who doesn’t?
Win: I Love New York (Daniel Humm and Will Guidara) because the Eleven Madison Park team has never NOT won anything they have been nominated for.
Place: Pickles, Pigs and Whiskey: Recipes from My Favorite Food Groups and then Some (John Currence). That title alone deserves an award.
Show: The New Midwestern Table: 200 Heartland Recipes (Amy Thielen)
Dark Horse: The New Midwestern Table: 200 Heartland Recipes (Amy Thielen). Don’t take it personally — we love ya, flyover!
Category: Outstanding Beer, Wine or Spirits Professional
The Nominees: Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, Del.; Ron Cooper, Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal, Ranchos de Taos, N.M.; Garrett Oliver, Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn; Harlen Wheatley, Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort, Ky.; David Wondrich, spirits educator, Brooklyn.
Favorite: Ron Cooper, who put fine mezcal on the map.
Win: Harlen Wheatley. Distilling is the Kentucky state bird.
Place: David Wondrich, who was essential in making Americans drink better cocktails.
Show: Garrett Oliver, NYC’s own brewer/patriot.
Dark Horse: Dogfish Head. It’s a great beer, but a brewery from Delaware has as much chance at winning as Joe Biden does the next election.
Category: Outstanding Wine Program
The Nominees: A16, San Francisco; Bar Boulud, NYC; The Barn at Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tenn.; FIG, Charleston, S.C.; The Little Nell, Aspen, Col.
Favorite: A16. They are adjacent to Napa Valley, you know.
Win: Bar Boulud. A wine geek’s wet dream. The walls are adorned with “wine stain” art, for crying out loud.
Place: The Little Nell. All the foodie folks drink their way through that wine list every year at the Food & Wine Classic.
Show: The Barn at Blackberry Farm, already a Beard winner.
Dark Horse: Fig, also a previous Beard winner, but not as high-profile as the competition.
Category: Outstanding Bar Program
The Nominees: Bar Agricole, San Francisco; The Bar at the NoMad Hotel, NYC; Clyde Common, Portland, Ore.; Maison Premiere, Brooklyn; The Violet Hour, Chicago
Favorite: The Bar at the NoMad Hotel, because anything involving Daniel Humm and Will Guidara just can’t lose.
Win: See above.
Place: The Violet Hour. The literary folk who vote love a bar that takes its name from a T. S. Eliot poem.
Show: Clyde Common. Mixologist Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s influence reaches far and wide (ex: the carbonated cocktail craze).
Dark Horse: Maison Premiere. Brooklyn’s best bar, hands down. But too new to the game to take it.
Category: Outstanding Restaurateur
The Nominees: Barbara Lynch, Barbara Lynch Gruppo (No. 9 Park, Menton, B&G Oysters, and others), Boston; Donnie Madia, One Off Hospitality Group, (Blackbird, Avec, The Publican, and others), Chicago; Cindy Pawlcyn, Mustards Grill and Cindy’s Back Street Kitchen, Napa Valley, Calif.; Caroline Styne, Lucques, A.O.C., Tavern, and others, Los Angeles; Phil Suarez, Suarez Restaurant Group, NYC (ABC Kitchen, Jean-Georges, wd~50, and others).
Favorite: Phil Suarez is on fire. Jean-Georges retained its four stars in a rave from Pete Wells in The New York Times. The ABC empire is expanding. Dan Kluger is nominated for Best Chef NYC. And Wd-50 is nominated as outstanding restaurant.
Win: Phil Suarez, for reasons above.
Place: Barbara Lynch, who has been consistently under-recognized (kinda like her hometown). We’re betting next year will be hers.
Show: Donnie Madia.
Dark Horse: Cindy Pawlcyn. One of Napa’s finest, but still needs a few more years as a nominee to take it.
Category: Outstanding Pastry Chef
The Nominees: Dominique Ansel, Dominique Ansel Bakery, NYC; Dana Cree, Blackbird, Chicago; Belinda Leong, b. patisserie, San Francisco; Dahlia Narvaez, Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles; Christina Tosi, Momofuku, NYC
Favorite: Dominique Ansel. Because people are cray-cray for Cronuts.
Win: See above.
Place: Christina Tosi. She’s already taken home a Rising Star Chef of the Year award. This is what one rises to.
Show: Dahlia Narvaez. Because everyone talks about that rosemary olive oil cake.
Dark Horse: Belinda Leong. Tough crowd.
Category: Outstanding Restaurant
The Nominees: Hearth, NYC; Highlands Bar and Grill, Birmingham, Ala.; The Slanted Door, San Francisco; Spiaggia, Chicago; wd~50, NYC
Favorite: Spiaggia. It’s chef Tony Mantuano’s turn.
Place: Highlands. Nominated too many times; once Spiaggia wins it, they’ll move to the front runner.
Show: Slanted Door.
Dark Horse: Hearth and wd-50. Sorry New Yorkers. First-time nominations for each as they both just turned 10 years old. Prospects don’t look promising this year.
Category: Outstanding Service
The Nominees: Blue Hill, NYC; Quince, San Francisco; The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, Calif.; Topolobampo, Chicago; Vetri, Philadelphia
Favorite: Topolobampo, because Rick Bayless’s nice-guy personality pervades the staff by osmosis.
Win: Blue Hill. It’s one of Barack and Michelle’s favorite date spots for a reason.
Place: Vetri. Mark Vetri’s staff is another example of the nice-guy syndrome.
Dark Horse: Quince.
Category: Best New Restaurant
The Nominees: Betony (NYC); Carbone (NYC); Coqueta (San Francisco); Estela (NYC); Peche Seafood Grill (New Orleans).
Favorite: Coqueta. It’s damn good and it has the Michael Chiarello machine behind it.
Win: Betony. Bryce Shuman’s cooking is nothing short of spectacular, and there’s a fantastic bar program and service to back him up.
Place: Estela. Ignacio Mattos’s creative plates have the joint mobbed nightly.
Show: Peche Seafood Grill. One of the many reasons food tourism is a specialty of the Big Easy.
Dark Horse: Carbone. Old-school grandma food is great, but doesn’t take home the medals.
Category: Outstanding Chef
The Nominees: Michael Anthony, Gramercy Tavern, NYC; Sean Brock, McCrady’s, Charleston, S.C.; Suzanne Goin, Lucques, Los Angeles; David Kinch, Manresa, Los Gatos, Calif.; Nancy Silverton, Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles; Marc Vetri, Vetri, Philadelphia
Favorite: Suzanne Goin. It just would be a great way to stick it to the “Gods of Food.”
Win: Going with Goin.
Place: Michael Anthony. Because he, and Gramercy Tavern, are just that good.
Show: Tight race between Marc Vetri and Sean Brock. Maybe Vetri by a nose.
Dark Horse: Nancy Silverton.
Category: Best Chef New York City
Favorite: Both April Bloomfield and Michael White have four nominations. People like to say that it is the most-nominated’s “turn.”
Win: Jonathan Waxman. He’s influenced the dining scene not only in NYC but in the entire U.S. for decades now.
Place: April Bloomfield. She brought the word “gastropub” into our lexicon and made it delicious.
Show: Dan Kluger.
Dark Horse: Michael White, who is poised to receive “Susan Lucci” honors until he grabs the medallion. Though, it’s not a bad thing, exposure-wise, to have your name on the ballot, year after year.