By Harriet McLeod
Special to the Daily Journal
Published March 18, 2013
It’s recognized as one of the five outstanding new restaurants in the country. The other nominees were Empellon Cocina in New York City, Grace in Chicago, Rich Table in San Francisco and State Bird Provisions in San Francisco.
The nominations for the annual awards were announced at Lowndes Grove Plantation. Also included from Charleston were chef Sean Brock of McCrady’s for Outstanding Chef and author Nathalie Dupree for the American Cooking book award her new cookbook, Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking, written with Cynthia Graubart.
The awards will be handed out May 3 and May 6 in New York City.
James Beard Foundation President Susan Ungaro
The brunch that followed was all-local. Purveyors included Anson Mills, Belle’s Country Links, Bowens Island Restaurant, The Glass Onion, Celia’s of Charleston, Big T Coastal Productions, Charleston Crepe Co. and Sociale Mocktails.
Lata and Brock have previously won the Beard award for Best Chef in the Southeast.
After taking the 2009 chef award for his work at FIG, Lata found himself traveling, with invitations to the country’s best food festivals, he said.
“Business kicked up at FIG,” he said. “It was just good for business. We got better applicants. We wanted to honor our award by our cooking and meeting the expectations of our guests.”
Dupree said: “It’s just wonderful to see Charleston and our food recognized over and over. For so long, Southern food was the stepchild of American cooking. Now it’s acknowledged as the most important original American cuisine.”
The 4,000-member James Beard Foundation has held the nominations ceremony outside New York for five years — in Chicago, New Orleans, Portland, Ore., and now Charleston, President Susan Ungaro said.
“Charleston is a no-brainer for us,” she said. “Food is such an integral part of Charleston’s culture that harkens back to the days of (20th-century American chef and food writer) James Beard himself.”
Membership adds value to his business, said event planner Mitchell Crosby, president of JMC Charleston, a James Beard Foundation member for 10 years.
“It shows my clients I’m serious about food and food trends.”