Two from Seattle win James Beard awards

  • Mon May 7th, 2012 9:51pm
  • News

Associated Press and Herald staff

NEW YORK — Two Seattle culinary figures, Tom Douglas and Matt Dillon, took top honors at the prestigious James Beard Foundation awards ceremony Monday.

Douglas was named restaurateur of the year. He owns 13 restaurants in the Belltown and South Lake Union neighborhoods of Seattle, including his first place, Dahlia Lounge. He previously took a Beard award in 1994 for best Northwest chef.

Dillon, named Northwest region chef of the year, is chef-owner of Sitka &Spruce, located in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. The place is noted for carefully prepared, inventive dishes using local ingredients.

The James Beard awards, considered the Oscars of the culinary world, honor those who follow in the footsteps of Beard, considered the dean of American cooking when he died in 1985. Monday’s ceremony honored chefs and restaurants; a similar event on Friday was held for book and other media awards.

The foundation’s outstanding chef award went to Daniel Humm, the chef behind New York’s Eleven Madison Park. Humm, a native of Switzerland, has spent his career amassing awards. Most recently, his restaurant — which has four stars from the New York Times and three from the Michelin Guide — was named No. 10 in the world by Restaurant magazine.

Boulevard restaurant in San Francisco was named outstanding restaurant of the year. Opened by chef Nancy Oakes on the San Francisco waterfront in 1993, Boulevard’s cuisine blends regional American cooking with French style. Last year’s outstanding restaurant honor went to Eleven Madison Park.

The best new restaurant award went to Grant Achatz’ second Chicago restaurant, Next.

The group’s Lifetime Achievement award this year went to Wolfgang Puck, the pioneer of California cuisine whose menu for the annual Academy Awards Governors Ball is almost as eagerly anticipated as the awards themselves. Puck has won multiple honors from the foundation over the years and is the only chef to have twice received its Most Outstanding Chef award.

Puck has been an iconic voice in California cuisine. In 1982, he opened Spago, the restaurant for which he remains best known.