Monday night, the James Beard awards happened. Boston yawned, fixed itself a snack, and went to bed early.
The annual ceremony, held for the first time in Chicago, is often referred to as the Oscars of the food world. So we were thrilled for Barry Maiden of Hungry Mother, who won the title of Best Chef: Northeast not long into the evening. It was unquestionably his time to do so — so unquestionably one thought it might not happen, that this year might bring an upset.
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The other contenders, all deserving, were: Karen Akunowicz, Myers + Chang; Masa Miyake, Miyake, Portland, Me.; Cassie Piuma, Sarma; and Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley, Eventide Oyster Co., Portland, Me. It seemed entirely possible that someone from Portland, the city food lovers love to love, would take it.
Nope. At this point, everyone in New England outside of the Boston area shrugs and thinks, “We’re just never gonna win.” (And then Portland’s Central Provisions lost to New York’s Batard in the Best New Restaurant category.) By the time next year’s awards roll around, hope will rise again.
And that’s about as big fish as Boston got. Joanne Chang didn’t win for Outstanding Baker, losing to Jim Lahey of New York’s Sullivan Street Bakery. (You probably know him as the “no-knead bread guy.”) Maura Kilpatrick, of Oleana, lost in the Outstanding Pastry Chef category, to Christina Tosi of New York’s Momofuku. Even Jamie Bissonnette of Toro and Coppa was introduced with the caption “of Toro NYC.” Jamie, we hardly knew ye. Although this was the first year the awards took place outside of New York, the city still dominated.
Maiden was a gracious regional representative. In his speech, he thanked the Hungry Mother crew and son Dylan, who showed him the importance of balance. And he had an important message for us all: Take time to stop and smell the mirepoix.
• The 2015 James Beard winners
• James Beard award nominees announced
Devra First can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @devrafirst.