As many of you recall, last year Chefs Kent Rigsby of Rigsby’s Kitchen and Magdiale Wolmark of Dragonfly Neo-V were named Semi-Finalists for a James Beard Award—the first time that our city has been so honored. We were so excited that we threw a party for them.
Well, guess what: We want to throw another party this year. And the bigger the better. But first, we need the citizens of Columbus to stand up for their food service professionals.
With Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations’ recent visit to Columbus, and with Chef Michael (“LeBron II”) Ruhlman having just concluded that “Columbus exceeds Cleveland as a worthy food destination,” we have no excuses not to be well represented in this year’s Beard Award balloting for Best Chef: Great Lakes. Last year’s nominees hardly exhausts the city’s roster of outstanding chefs with long records of service to the city—Mike Kimura of Kihachi, Alana Shock of Alana’s Food and Wine, and John Dornback from Basi Italia come to mind, for example—, and there are other categories in which we could make an excellent case for some of our outstanding citizens. Without attempting (too obviously…) to influence votes, we’d offer the following list to jog memories and as an example of what Columbus has to offer:
- Spencer Budros‘ wizardry at Pistacia Vera surely deserves a nod in the Outstanding Pastry Chef category, as does that of Jeni Britton-Bauer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams (the ballot allows for a “chef” who makes “desserts,” so we assume that Jeni qualifies… at least, we’re content to make them tell us she doesn’t!);
- Elizabeth Lessner is an outstanding role model for restaurateurs everywhere, and we’d be delighted to see her contributions to the city recognized with an award;
- Skillet‘s immense popularity may give it a reasonable claim to votes in the “Best New Restaurant” category
(update: to our chagrin, it’s been pointed out to us that the Best New Restaurant category is limited to restaurants that opened in 2010, and Skillet opened in October of 2009. Cruel and unfair… but all the more reason to visit Knead, if you haven’t already.)(UPDATE TO UPDATE: WE STAND CORRECTED and Skillet is indeed eligible, as the Beard Foundation’s calendar year runs May to May! Knead will apparently, by the same logic, be eligible in the same category next year.)
- Brady Konya and Ryan Lang of Middle West Spirits and Sommelier Chris Dillman constitute outstanding wine and spirits professionals, and The Refectory is known for its outstanding wine service.
Whatever your own experience, though, we’d urge you to go to the James Beard website and take a few minutes to vote. Represent Columbus… and give us a reason to celebrate again!