I remember early on in my relationship with the Chef being asked about James Beard. 'Had my Chef ever cooked at the house?' a friend inquired as we sipped on our martini's at Kitchen 22. Not having a clue what or who a James Beard was I quickly answered no and changed the subject.
After moving back to Cleveland, I found out who and what a James Beard was. The Chef had just started working with Michael Symon when Symon was announced as a nominee. My Chef came home over the moon for his new boss. His smile wide, he explained to me the importance of James Beard. 'It's like the Oscars of the food world, the best of the best' he said.
Symon won Best Chef Great Lakes that year and as most of us all know has gone on to do amazing things with his career. My Chef, has been on the long list numerous times as a rising star but never a Best Chef.
That is, until now.
Yesterday I found myself perusing the semi finalist list for the 2012 James Beard Awards. So many friends (congrats Jason!) on the list made my search for my Chef's name seem like hours. A nervous rumbling began in my stomach as my finger moved under the Great Lakes heading. Moving my eyes slowly down the list until my rumbling stomach turned gleeful and I saw the name that I am forever connected to.
There he was, surrounded by his peers: chefs he looks up to, chefs that inspire him. His name squeezed in between so many of the greats!
As someone who has watched him work harder than anyone I know, I can easily say I couldn't be prouder. If you know the Chef, then you know why he is so deserving. Congrats my Johnny! You rock mah casbah.
You can find the complete list of James Beard Foundation Awards Semi -Finalists here.