The James Beard Foundation Book, Broadcast & Journalism Awards Bring TV Dinners to Life

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The television industry has the Emmys, the movie industry the Oscars, the theater industry the Tonys. In the food world, the James Beard Awards recognize the very best of what’s new and craveworthy, from cookbooks and food videos to what’s on the plate at big and small restaurants alike. Tuesday night the James Beard Foundation Book, Broadcast & Journalism Awards took place at New York City’s Pier 60, where hundreds of culinary legends, industry newcomers and food fans came together to celebrate the role food plays in media of all kinds.

The theme of the night was TV dinners — but esteemed guests weren’t served their meals on a plastic compartmentalized tray. Instead the menu, from the passed hors d’oeuvres to the multicourse sit-down dinner to the dessert reception, was inspired by such classic television favorites as Gilligan’s Island (a seafood starter of Salt Cod “Cru” was the first plated dish), I Love Lucy (Cuban Squash Blossom Empanadas, pictured above) and Donald Duck (yes, you guessed it, this entree course featured thinly sliced smoked duck with sweet-tart cherries).

It was up to host and chef Ming Tsai to kick off the presentation with the first awards, and after the first few recipients collected their medals and spoke of gratitude and awe at the recognition, it became clear that works focused on international cuisines were receiving much success. While there was indeed a book award category focusing on the subject — Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook won with Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking in the International category — others outside of it were honored as well.

Cooking Channel’s own Extra Virgin, which celebrates the rustic and approachable Tuscan cuisine of hosts Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos, won the Broadcast Media Award for Television Program, in Studio or Fixed Location, while Indian Curries: The Basics & Beyond, hosted by Raghavan Iyer on Craftsy.com, won the award for Video Webcast, Fixed Location and/or Instructional.

Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully’s NOPI: The Cookbook, which brings to life Ottolenghi’s London eatery, earned the Book Award for Cooking from a Professional Point of View. And Solomonov and Cook took home their second medals of the night when they were honored with the Book of the Year award for Zahav.

Works focusing on flavors and destinations closer to home earned top credits too last night. Chef Virginia Willis, who wrote the FN Dish column Down-Home Comfort, scored the Book Award win in the Focus on Healthy category with her cookbook Lighten Up, Y’all: Classic Southern Recipes Made Healthy and Wholesome. In the Journalism category, The Washington Post’s article America’s Best Food Cities won in the Dining and Travel category.

Check out all the winners from the Book, Broadcast & Journalism Awards here.

Up next? The 2016 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards, which will be announced live in Chicago on May 2. Stay tuned for insider coverage of all the winners from that ceremony too.