As the country celebrated culinary excellence— a night that’s the equivalent to the Oscars for the food, wine and hospitality business— the Empire State Building was lit up in pineapple yellow and tomato soup red in honor of the 2012 James Beard Awards and its 25th anniversary.
Alton Brown, a James Beard Award recipient, author, chef and star of the Food Network’s “Good Eats,” hosted the event from Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York City.
The James Beard Foundation Awards covers all aspects of the industry — from chefs and restaurateurs to cookbook authors and food journalists to restaurant designers and architects. Its the highest honor for food and beverage professionals in North America.
The winners of the 2012 James Beard Awards are:
Rising Star Chef of the Year: Christina Tosi, Momofuku Milk Bar, New York City, N.Y.
America’s Classics: St. Elmo Steak House, Indianapolis, Ind.; Nora’s Fish Creek Inn, Wilson, Wyo.; Jones Bar-B-Q-Diner, Marianna, Ark.; Shady Glen, Manchester, Conn.; The Fry Bread House, Phoenix, Ariz.
Outstanding Bar Program: PDT, New York City, N.Y.
Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional: Paul Grieco, Terroir, New York City, N.Y.
Outstanding Wine Program: No.9 Park, Boston, Mass.
Best Chef Great Lakes: Bruce Sherman, North Pond, Chicago, Ill.
Best Chef Mid-Atlantic: Maricel Presilla, Cucharamama, Hoboken, N.J.
Best Chef Midwest: Tory Miller, L’Etoile, Madison, Wis.
Best Chef NYC (Five Boroughs): Michael Anthony, Gramercy Tavern, New York City, N.Y.
Best Chef Northwest: Matt Dillon, Sitka & Spruce, Seattle, Wash.
Best Chef Pacific: Matt Molina, Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles, Calif.
Best Chef Northeast: Tim Cushman, O Ya, Boston, Mass.
Best Chef South: Chris Hastings, Hot and Hot Fish Club, Birmingham, Ala.
Best Chef Southeast: Hugh Acheson, Five and Ten, Athens, Ga.; and Linton Hopkins, Restaurant Eugene, Atlanta, Ga.
Best Chef Southwest: Paul Qui, Uchiko, Austin, Texas.
Humanitarian of the Year: Charlie Trotter
Outstanding Restaurant Design: Bentel & Bentel Architects, Le Bernardin, New York City, N.Y.
Outstanding Restaurant Graphics: Pandiscio Co. The Americano, Hotel Americano, New York City, N.Y.
Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America Inductees: Grant Achatz, Mark Bittman, Dana Cowin, Emily Luchetti and Marvin Shanken.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Wolfgang Puck
Outstanding Pastry Chef: Mindy Segal, Mindy’s Hot Chocolate, Chicago, Ill.
Best New Restaurant: Next, Chicago, Ill.
Outstanding Service: La Grenouille, New York City, N.Y.
Outstanding Restaurateur: Tom Douglas, Tom Douglas Restaurants, Seattle, Wash.
Outstanding Restaurant: Boulevard, San Francisco, Calif.
Outstanding Chef: Daniel Humm, Eleven Madison Park, New York City, N.Y.
Prior to the big night, the James Beard Foundation also announced the winners for its book, broadcast and journalism awards for 2012.
“Keep it simple, be authentic, don’t make it all about you, cook seasonally but don’t rush it. When it’s ready, it’s ready,” said Brown quoting James Beard.