They’re called the Oscars of food, and for good reason. A parade of culinary-world rock stars flooded Lincoln Center Monday night for the James Beard Awards, at which a handful of locals won big, including Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen (Best New Restaurant), Belinda Chang of the Modern (Outstanding Wine Service), Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune (Best NYC Chef) and Eleven Madison Park (Outstanding Restaurant).
We watched the action from the backstage press lounge, where several of the night’s chefs and foodie personalities (including Gail Simmons, Todd English, Duff Goldman and Anne Burrell) mingled and took advantage of snacks from the Meatball Shop and the free-flowing Plymouth gin bar.
We grabbed the ever-congenial culinary aficionado, author and TV personality Ted Allen for a few questions.
Is there anyone in particular you were rooting for tonight?
Yes, Ruth Bourdain [the anonymous, fictitious Twitter personality who won a humor- writing award]. I was kind of hoping someone would show up and claim that award. I think it was the first non-person to win a James Beard, so who would accept it was sort of a mystery.
What have you been up to lately?
Well, I just finished writing my second cookbook, and we’re shooting [Food Network’s] “Chopped.”
What’s the book called? Plug yourself.
“The Kitchen Adventure.”
How is it different from your last?
It has different recipes ... they work! No, they worked in the other one. It’s five years later.
Are you partying tonight?
We’re in the middle of shooting “Chopped,” so unlike all the rest of you people who are going to stay out till 5 in the morning partying, I have to be picked up at the crack of hell tomorrow.
What time? 5 a.m.
Ugh! Isn't that disgusting? It's un-American!
Where do you shoot?
Long Island City, which I love. So much better than going into Manhattan — there’s no traffic. It takes 12 hours to shoot this game show! It is a game show ... I'm like the Monty Hall of Food Network.
What’s the best meal you’ve had out recently?
We had a lovely meal at Umi Nom in Bed-Stuy. It’s the
same chef that’s at Kuma Inn on the Lower East Side. It’s Filipino and Vietnamese.
Do you live in Brookyn?
Clinton Hill. Love it. The restaurant is like three blocks from my house.
How hipster of you.
Look, I'm way too old to be a hipster.