Over the past four months, dozens of people have contributed to this year's Seattle Weekly Food Awards. The members of Slow Food Seattle proposed nominees for the Pellegrini and Sustainability awards. A panel of judges convened by the Weekly then sifted through these names to select the winners. Separately, as the Weekly's restaurant critic, I picked the winner of the Innovation Award. All the award winners are being feted at a private reception at Volterra Restaurant next week (be sure to visit Voracious, our food blog, for photos of the event: www.seattleweekly.com/voracious).
About Slow Food Seattle
Slow Food is an international organization devoted to preserving our culinary traditions in an age of industrialized food production. Slow Food is divided into local "convivia"; the Seattle convivium organizes dinners, tastings, and other food events. To learn more, visit www.slowfoodusa.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Judges
Chris Curtis is the founder and director of Seattle's Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance, which manages seven of the city's farmers markets. Roger Downey, former Seattle Weekly food editor, has written about food and wine in Seattle for more than three decades. Jo Robinson, writer and activist, is the author of Pasture Perfect, which lays out the many benefits of eating the meat, eggs, and milk from pasture-raised animals. Jon Rowley is the winner of the 2006 Angelo Pellegrini Award, our first. A former fisherman, Rowley has combined his passion for flavor with his marketing and writing savvy to discover, improve, and market some of the Pacific Northwest's best seafood and produce.
About Angelo Pellegrini
Though new arrivals to Seattle may not have heard of Angelo Pellegrini, our local food scene would not be so spirited and ingredient-driven without his influence. Pellegrini (1904–1991) emigrated to Washington state from Tuscany as a child in the early 20th century, eventually joining the University of Washington's English department as a professor. His gardening, cooking, and winemaking became as famous as his Shakespeare courses, and in 1948, he published a treatise on "food and the good life" titled The Unprejudiced Palate. Segueing effortlessly from the joy of making one's own wine to the importance of simple pleasures in a mechanized, overstimulating world, the book has influenced generations of readers, among them Alice Waters and Ruth Reichl. Pellegrini continued to write and lecture on the "good life" for four more decades; in the 1980s, he penned a regular column on food in the Weekly.
Every devoted cook or gardener in this city should pick up a copy of The Unprejudiced Palate, which is thankfully still in print. Although the rhetorical eloquence of his prose bespeaks an older generation, everything Pellegrini writes about is as vital and current as it was in the 1940s. In his books and articles, you can see Seattle's love for P-Patches and farmers markets, our passion for local foods, and the geeky joy we lavish on our experiments in home brewing, bread baking, and jam making.