When the James Beard Foundation announced nominees for its 2013 honors earlier this week, the book awards included 33 titles nominated in 12 categories. I was particularly happy to see three receive the recognition they deserve, in part because the authors were featured in Taste stories in 2012.
First up: "The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook: Sweetness in Seattle." I spoke with author Tom Douglas in October (find our Q&A here) and, in the intervening months, his book has quickly become a well-worn resource in our kitchen. It's worth buying just for the tomato soup recipe, trust me.
Douglas is no stranger to James Beardiana. In 1994, he was named Best Chef: Northwest. In 2001, his first cookbook, "Tom Douglas' Seattle Kitchen," won the Beard's best Americana cookbook prize. And in 2012, Douglas was named Outstanding Restaurateur.
Second: "Herbivoracious: A Flavor Revolution with 150 Vibrant and Original Vegetarian Recipes." It's a great story: Techie-turned-blogger Michael Natkin turned his well-followed online ode to all things vegetarian into a useful, original and great-looking (he also shot the pictures) cookbook, and accolades follow, which should come as no surprise to anyone who has read it.
Bottom line: If you don't own this book, you should. This is Natkin's first Beard nomination. Find my conversation with him here.
Third: "Yes, Chef: A Memoir." When my editor Lee Svitak Dean read the first chapter of chef Marcus Samuelsson's beautifully written autobiography, she cried. She's a stoic Minnesotan, so that reaction speaks volumes. Twin Citians will remember Samuelsson from the former, much-missed Aquavit in downtown Minneapolis, and anyone traveling to New York City needs to book a table at his wildly popular Red Rooster in Harlem. Find Lee's Q&A with Sameulsson here.
Like Douglas, the Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised Samuelsson is no stranger to the James Beard awards, wining the Rising Star Chef of the Year award in 1999 and Best Chef: New York City in 2003. "The Soul of a New Cuisine," his fascinating survey of African cooking, won the 2006 Beard award in the international cookbook category.
Here's hoping all three will be awarded the Beard medallion when the winners are announced on May 3rd in New York City.