Table Tops: the 2010 Seattle Weekly Food Awards

Food is so much more than just fuel. For those who truly care, it is comfort and consolation, a path by which we might better understand the world around us. Food is a mode of expression for those who cook it; occasionally a battle flag for those who eat it; a means of bringing friends and strangers together at the table and distant, disparate places closer to home. Food is the way we connect with our past, celebrate our present, and look into the future.

Now we are here to celebrate this fierce power food has over us—to award those who have dedicated their lives to feeding us and, through their good works, allowing us to celebrate, to connect, and to glimpse, however briefly, the future of American cuisine.

This year's Seattle Weekly Food Awards:

Innovation Award: If not for the wild inspirations, crazy obsessions, and daring experimentation of cooks and chefs, none of us would ever have anything to eat except mashed potatoes and Dinty Moore beef stew. Innovation is all about those envelope-pushers, daring culinary explorers, and out-of-the-box thinkers, and this award is given to those whose instinct for moving beyond tradition and common knowledge results not just in a different way to eat, but a better one.

Sustainability Award: Given to those who look at the world and see something in it worth saving; who hold a mushroom, a basil leaf, or a lamb chop in their hands and, rather than simply turning it into dinner, feel a need to safeguard it so that no meal we eat is ever the last meal of its kind. This award is presented to honor major and lasting contributions to sustainable agriculture, environmentally responsible food production, and the preservation of food traditions in and around the Puget Sound area.

Pellegrini Award: Honoring a person in the Puget Sound area who has fostered what the late Seattle teacher, writer, and cook Angelo Pellegrini called "the good life" as it encompasses food, wine, community, and the joys of the table. This year's Pellegrini Award is presented in cooperation with a panel of past winners—Jon Rowley, Armandino Batali, Greg Atkinson—and Angelo Pellegrini's children, Angela Owens and Brent Pellegrini. Also, because of her deep appreciation for the work of the man for whom it's named, Ruth Reichl—food writer, author, cook, and queen of restaurant critics—has written for us a piece about Angelo Pellegrini, for whom the Pellegrini Award is named.

All three awards will be given out live during the Voracious Tasting and Food Awards tonight, April 14, at the Paramount Theatre (sold out). We hope to see you there.

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