The James Beard Awards—which are “the Oscars of the culinary industry,” as has been said ad infinitum but which also happens to be true—happen tonight in New York starting at 5 Central time (6 Eastern). The best restaurants and chefs in the country—determined by a vote of chefs and other culinary professionals—will be announced at a gala awards dinner at Lincoln Center. The host will be television personality and chef Alton Brown. If you want to follow along on the Internet, you’re in luck. The star-studded event will live-blogged and live-streamed on the Beard web site. The hashtag #jbfa will be used for all awards-related Tweets. What’s the Texas connection? Four Texas chefs are up for the regional award as Best Chef: Southwest (there were only six finalists in this category, so there is a good chance one of our folks will win). The nominees are Bruce Auden, Biga on the Banks, San Antonio; Bruno Davaillon, Mansion Restaurant at the Mansion on Turtle Creek, Dallas; Hugo Ortega, Hugo’s, Houston; and Paul Qui, Uchiko, Austin. (The two non-Texas finalists in the Southwest division are Kevin Binkley, Binkley’s Restaurant, Cave Creek, Arizona; and Jennifer Jasinski, Rioja, Denver.) Oh, in case you’re wondering why there’s a picture of the Empire State Building on this post, it’s because the edifice will be lighted orange and yellow tonight. Those two colors have special meaning for JBF. The walls of the organization’s headquarters, Beard House, were painted orange when chef and author James Beard resided there (“It’s like living in a bowl of tomato soup,” he would say), while yellow represents the pineapple, a symbol of hospitality and a motif in the Beard House decor during the Foundation’s early years.
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