2016 James Beard Foundation Award Winners

Shaw/Watha T. Daniel LibraryStaff Picks

2016 James Beard Foundation Award Winners

Some of the Best of the Beards

It’s that time of the year again when the Beard Foundation Awards have been given out to the top chefs, restaurants, media and food literature. Here is a list of some of this year’s winners in the various cookbook categories. This is not a complete list but rather a spotlight on some of my favorites. To see the complete list of winners visit James Beard Foundation.

International AND Book of the Year

Zahav : A World of Israeli Cooking by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook
Michael Solomonov, Israeli born chef and co-owner of the uber-popular Philadelphia restaurant Zahav, deservedly won the Beard Award for both International AND Book of the Year for his cookbook of the same name. Zahav is the Hebrew word for gold and Solomonov has indeed struck gold with this book. Here Solomonov shares his passion for modern Israeli cooking. This book bursts with beautifully photographed recipes of old and new takes on Middle Eastern cuisine. Solomonov tells his story, both personal and professional, while weaving food tales throughout. The recipes are accessible and easy to replicate. As with any good cookbook this one concludes with a handy resources section and index.

Cooking from a Professional Point of View

NOPI : The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi, Ramael Scully
Esteemed Yotam Ottolenghi (has anyone NOT heard of this man?) and Ramael Scully have teamed up as a force to be reckoned with at NOPI. From the outset Ottolenghi admits that this book is far different than his other cookbooks. This is a restaurant food and home cooks will find many of these recipes challenging. Thus this book won the Beard award for Cooking from a Professional Point of View. Are you up for the challenge? The recipes are truly fusion-esque blending and blurring the line between Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines. It works but so will you. The book handily concludes with menu oriented “Meal suggestions” and a glossary of “Our ingredients A to Z” used heavily throughout.

General Cooking

The Food Lab : Better Home Cooking Through Science by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt
J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, a self-proclaimed “food nerd”, has written the Beard Award winner for General Cooking. This book started as the Food Lab column on SeriousEats.com. This science fair meets cookbook is the perfect “first” cookbook for the inquisitive newbie or anyone, for that matter, with a desire to learn the basics of cooking but also the hows and whys of kitchen best practices. The book, and it's a heavy one, has great conversion tables at the beginning and end to help with measurement navigation.


Near & Far : Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel by Heidi Swanson
Photographer, author and blogger, Heidi Swanson won the Beard award for Photography in this beautiful, yet understated, cookbook which combines those ever so wonderful things of food and travel. San Francisco based, Heidi divides her book into two major sections: "Near and Far." The recipes from near are inspired by her hometown of San Francisco and northern California and those from far are divided into five chapters spotlighting countries that the author has visited multiple times: Morocco, Japan, Italy, France and India. Vegetarian based, each country starts with lunch oriented recipes and move on to dinner. A list of ingredients traditionally associated with each country precedes each chapter. In between the near and far Heidi includes a buffer chapter titled “En Route” listing five recipes for items that can accompany one along the journey.

Single Subject

A Bird in the Hand : Chicken Recipes for Every Day and Every Mood by Diana Henry
I enjoy chicken. Chicken is easy to cook. If you’re like me you have some favorite chicken recipes but may be need of some new ones to “jump start” your “pollo repertoire.” Voila! A Bird in the Hand to the rescue. British writer Diane Henry has put together an amazing selection of international recipes for this Single Subject winner. The recipes, while not too complicated, do call for a well stocked pantry and spice cabinet. The result is a collection of mouth watering poultry dishes with flavor combinations that are sure to inspire and satisfy you for some time.

Vegetable Focused and Vegetarian

V Is for Vegetables : Inspired Recipes & Techniques for Home Cooks by Michael Anthony
Michael Anthony, Executive Chef of Gramercy Tavern & Untitled, has a bit of alphabet city for us in this Vegetable Focused cookbook which starts with artichokes and finishes up with zucchini. Strictly speaking this is not a vegetarian cookbook as a number of recipes include meat or fish. Rather the author’s intent is to put vegetables in the spotlight and provide directional guidance to the reader. The book has a playful element to it in its layout. Eat and enjoy your veggies!

These are a few of the standout winners of this year’s James Beard Foundation awards. If you like food, enjoy cooking and entertaining, do yourself (and those you love) a favor and explore these and the other winners.

Bon appetit!