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Kurniawan Investigation Wins James Beard Award

American chef and food writer James Beard
© James Beard Foundation | American chef and food writer James Beard
Opening awards dinner held in New York City.

The first round of winners in the 2013 James Beard Foundation Awards have been announced, with Vanity Fair writer Michael Steinberger picking up a top honor in the wine journalism category for an article on alleged wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan.

Steinberger's July 2012 report was headlined "A Vintage Crime," and suggested that the charges against Kurniawan may represent "the largest case of fine-wine fraud in history." Kurniawan is due to go on trial in September.

The Cookbooks: Beverage category was won by Julia Harding MW, Jancis Robinson MW, and José Vouillamoz for their mammoth work "Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavors."

The other finalists in the Cookbooks: Beverage section were "How to Love Wine: A Memoir and Manifesto," by Eric Asimov, and "Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World's Most Ancient Pleasures," by Paul Lukacs.

Asimov, who is the New York Times' wine critic, is one of this year's inductees in the James Beard Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America.

In the Cookbooks: Reference and Scholarship category, Sandor Katz took first place for "The Art of Fermentation." The winner of Cookbook of the Year was "Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America," by Maricel E. Presilla.

The results of the James Beard restaurant and chef awards will be announced separately at a gala dinner in New York City on Monday night. The nominees include Californian winemaker Merry Edwards, who is through to the finals in the Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional category.

In a pre-awards interview with the James Beard Foundation she said her first memories of food centered on holiday meals at her maternal grandmother's home in Illinois. "My uncles were all hunters, so, at Thanksgiving, turkey was only one of the many dishes presented, along with rabbit, duck, pheasant, and goose."

Asked about the 2012 California harvest, Edwards described it as "amazing." "In my forty years of experience, I have not seen quantity and quality come together like they did," said Edwards. "We refer to it here as the 'Tsunami of Grapes.'"

The film-themed menu for Friday night's book, broadcast and journalism awards dinner included:

  • Albacore Tuna and Beef Carpaccio with Pistachios and Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette (inspired by "When Harry Met Sally") + 2012 Jacob's Creek Steingarten Riesling 
  • Braised Lamb Shank with Saffron-Brown Butter Yukon Potatoes, Blood Oranges, Pequillo Peppers, and Moroccan Olive Relish ("Silence of the Lambs") + 2006 Ysios Reserva Rioja 
  • Opalys-Toasted Coconut Pot-de-Crème, with Dulcey Ganache, Mango Pearls, and Banana-Almond Rocher ("Chocolat") + Sandeman Armada Cream Oloroso Sherry NV.


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