The Kitchen Think: And The “Oscar” Goes To…


The Oscars of the food world, The James Beard Awards, are out and sadly, Mama didn’t win one. (Of course I wasn’t entered, but that seems like a minor detail…) But, like her beloved Chicago Cubs, there’s always next year!

My solace is that the Beards went to some truly deserving winners… like Ruth Bourdain, who always makes me laugh with her/his Tweets. “Ruth’s” profile says: “Comfort me with offal. Mashing up the tweets of Ruth Reichl with the mind of Anthony Bourdain. This is a parody. Also known as a satire,” so you know you’re in for a good time when those tweets pop up.

I am thrilled that the authority on Mexican cooking, Diana Kennedy, won the Cookbook of the Year award with “Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy”… her ninth cookbook. I had the privilege of cooking beside her when I was in culinary school and she was a guest chef. She is an amazing woman, not just because at 87 and still uncovering the nuances of Mexican cuisine, but she’s funny and smart and kind and one helluva cook.

Another winner was Tom Junod, who wrote a poignant piece titled “My Mom Couldn’t Cook,for the September 2010 issue of Esquire. I remember reading it and thinking of my own mother, who didn’t particularly care for cooking, but had to feed nine children and my father, so she did it and we ate what she put in front of us. That’s what you did back in those days… you didn’t “carry in” or feed your family fast food. There was no fast food. If you get a chance, read Junod’s piece.

Last fall, GP and I had the good fortune to fly with our friend Lee (who has his own plane) and eat at Zingerman’s Roadhouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where we enjoyed the fun cuisine of this year’s Great Lakes Best Chef, Alex Young. Zingerman’s has a crazy menu with offerings like Biscuits with Chocolate and Bacon Gravy or Macaroni and 3 Peppercorn Goat Cheese.

Even those who didn’t win are worth checking out, like Bootsie’s Heritage Cafe in Tomball, Texas, which was a Beard Award Semifinalist. Mama, Carlos, Sistie and Aba had a fantastic lunch there this spring. We still talk about the Tripe Sandwich and the Wild Boar Sausage and Homemade Sauerkraut.

Chef Randy Rucker says he cooks whatever “Mother Nature, local farmers and ranchers” produce, so he never knows from day-to-day what’s going to be on the restaurants big chalkboard menu.

There were a lot more winners…I could go on and on. But if I want to win one myself, I’ve got to get crackin’ in the kitchen.

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posted under The Kitchen Think

I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: