Top 5 Things Susan Ungaro's Looking Forward to at This Year’s James Beard Awards

By: Sarah De Heer

This weekend, the James Beard Foundation will host it's Journalism Awards dinner on Friday and Awards Ceremony and Gala Reception at Lincoln Center on Monday to honor the chefs and restaurateurs who made an indelible impression on the food industry in 2011. While this is a special occasion any year, this year it's extra special as they celebrate their silver anniversary: It's been 25 years since the James Beard Foundation officially opened the James Beard House as an American center for the culinary arts.

You've heard it before that these two events are like the Oscars of the food world. While we look forward to the food and newest , we wanted to know what Susan Ungaro, president of the foundation, was looking forward to the most.

1. Red Carpet Celebrity Chef Moments: It’s so exciting to greet all the special guest presenters and chef nominees as they arrive at Lincoln Center. Every one of them is a star for the evening. I’m especially looking forward to welcoming our Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Wolfgang Puck, who is being introduced this year by Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts.

2. Alton Brown and Me: I'm looking forward to sharing the podium this year with Food Network star Alton Brown, who is our Master of Ceremonies. I am truly excited to have a man who everyone in the food business admires for his entertaining food science skills and his Iron Chef Kitchen Stadium moments call the play-by-play highlights of our Awards at Avery Fisher Hall.

3. A Warm Welcome for Our America’s Classics Award Winners: Every year we celebrate people who represent the heart of our country’s community restaurants. These America’s Classics honorees are cooking up great food with family history and heritage. Anyone can view a few of the videos from past awards on our website at jamesbeard.org.

4. Fete the Best, Then Feast on the Rest of Great Chef Tastings: After watching our “Oscars” or “Emmys” of the food industry, I can’t wait to enjoy more than 25 delicious tastings prepared by some of America’s greatest chefs. This year is going to be extra special, because each chef is creating a tasting inspired by a recipe from one of James Beard’s cookbooks. This is certainly going to be a party celebrating “25 Years of Food at Its Best.”

5. The Smiles, Speeches and Stories of the Winners: Every year the acceptance speeches are filled with funny, poignant and memorable moments. They are what our 25 years of sweet and delicious history are made of.

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