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On Monday, May 9, Tom Colicchio, Emeril Lagasse, Gail Simmons, Andrew Zimmern, Anne Burrell and many others in the food industry — will don their best as they join the James Beard Foundation at its annual Restaurant and Chef Awards Dinner.
While categories like Best New Chef and Best New Restaurant tend to steal the spotlight, one category to keep your eye on is Rising Star Chef of the Year. According to the Foundation, “This award is given to a chef, age 30 or younger, who displays an impressive talent and who is likely to have a significant impact on the industry in years to come.” Past winners who hold this title include Nate Appleman and Andrew Carmellini.
Starting today, we’ll get to know each of the 2011 nominees up for this category a little better.
First up: Christina Tosi from the famed Momofuku Milk Bar in New York City. Tosi, who worked at WD-50 and Bouley before Milk Bar, is now known for her outrageously addicting desserts like Crack Pie, cereal milk soft serve ice cream and recently cake truffles.
“It’s an overwhelming honor to be singled out in a city and country of so many great chefs,” Tosi said when we asked her how it felt to be a James Beard nominee. “The awards have always been a great opportunity to get to know what’s going on in kitchens around the country, make new friends and celebrate one another’s passion for food, hard work and dedication to the job and industry.”
FN Dish: The theme of this year’s awards is “The Ultimate Melting Pot.” What is your favorite type of ethnic cuisine?
CT: Indian Food — it is somehow the ultimate comfort food for me. I love the use of spices and herbs in the cuisine, and the smell of Basmati rice!
FN Dish: Which celebrity/politician (dead or alive) would you like to cook for and why?
CT: I’d love to have cooked for Kim Ricketts, a celebrity in our community who just recently and so sadly passed away. I would have given anything to feed her a slice of pie, pick her brain and relish in her zest and passion for this industry and for life.
FN Dish: What is the one thing you’d like to change about the food industry?
CT: The food industry is a tricky thing. If you’re in it, you fought to be in it — somehow that breeds more enemies than friends and more criticism than support. I hope we can all get to a point where we’re about pumping each other up instead of pulling each other down. We should be sharing ideas and approaching food and service with open minds.
FN Dish: Paula Deen’s fried chicken or Bobby Flay’s burgers?
CT: Um. Easy. Fried chicken to start and burgers to finish!
FN Dish: What is the one thing you can’t live without in your home kitchen?
CT: Sodastream soda maker — I love bubbly water.
The James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards will take place at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall on May 9, 2011 and will be hosted by Tom Colicchio, Ming Tsai and Traci Des Jardins. For more information and tickets, go to www.jbfawards.com