Your Cocktail Chatter Cheat Sheet: Beard Edition

For your mingling pleasure, five news items to get today’s culinary conversations started:

1. Gabriel Rucker last night was crowned Best Chef Northwest at the James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards, a gala event live-streamed from Avery Fisher Hall in New York City (rarely have I felt as insufferably foodie-ish as yesterday afternoon, seated before a split-screen of the ceremony and my Twitter feed, a tumbler of micro-distilled bourbon in hand.) Rucker’s win meant Canlis’ Jason Franey and Ethan Stowell -- nominated for the fifth time -- went home empty-handed. Blaine Wetzel also lost in the Rising Star chef category, with Danny Bowien claiming the title.

2. Seattle didn’t fare any better in last Friday’s Book Awards: The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook, Modernist Cuisine at Home and Herbivoracious lost to Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza (score another point for Portland); Canal House Cooks Every Day and Roots: The Definitive Compendium with More Than 225 Recipes.

3. Female restaurant professionals, who were nearly shut out of last year’s awards, did extraordinarily well this year: Five Restaurant and Chef awards went to women, including the Outstanding Restaurateur prize, which Le Bernadin’s Maguy Le Coze became the first woman to ever win.

4. David Chang and Paul Kahan tied for Outstanding Chef. It was the third tie to ever occur in the category, and the first in this millennium: Wolfgang Puck and Jean-Georges Vongerichten both won the award in 1998.

5. The most unpopular judging decision concerned the food blog category of the journalism awards: Whole Foods’ Dark Rye picked up the win, leading writers to wonder why an advertorial bested digital journalism which is supposed to disseminate information, not sell products.

The complete James Beard Foundation award winners list is here.

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