This coming Monday, the James Beard Foundation will host its annual Awards Ceremony and Gala Reception at Lincoln Center to honor the chefs and restaurateurs who made the food industry unforgettable in 2011. This year, the foundation has asked Food Network’s own Alton Brown to host the awards. A true entertainer and culinary superstar, Alton’s no stranger to hosting gigs. Between Next Iron Chef, Iron Chef America and previous seasons of Food Network Star, the James Beard Foundation should rest easy knowing they have a pro on stage.
Last year, Alton Brown was awarded the Best TV Food Personality Award for Good Eats. Prior to that, in 2003, he was awarded the Book Award in the Reference category for his first book, I’m Just Here for the Food (2002).
We recently caught up with Alton to ask him about this honor, especially since the foundation will be celebrating their 25th anniversary this year.
You’ve hosted numerous shows on Food Network, but this somehow seems different. What are you doing to prepare? Are you nervous?
Prepare? Absolutely. A couple of jokes and an escape route. Nervous? Let’s say I’m appropriately aware.
To host this event any year would be an honor, but you’re doing it for their 25th anniversary. What are you looking forward to most?
It’s a very big night in the culinary world, and to be tapped for the 25th anniversary is humbling. But what I’m looking forward to the most is not mispronouncing any names.
Is there a specific award category that you’re most interested in (Best New Restaurant, Rising Star Chef, etc.)?
I’m not really eyeing any one category in particular. It’s the big picture of what’s going on in food and who represents true excellence that I’m interested in.
In a world full of mobile, do you think there will be a time when we’ll see eBooks or food applications nominated for James Beard Awards?
Seeing as how I’m working on several e-projects right now, I sure hope so.
What do you think James Beard would say about the food industry today?
I think he might admonish us all for being a tad too self-important, a bit big for our britches. But then he’d give us a wink.