TV actors have the Emmy Awards, movie stars the Oscars and Broadway greats the Tonys. For chefs, restaurateurs and food-media professionals, it’s all about the James Beard Foundation Awards. Each year the Foundation celebrates not only the newest, best eateries and the talent that helms their kitchens, but also the esteemed cookbook authors, journalists, TV personalities and digital videos that make up the ever-growing food-media industry. Just days before next week’s James Beard Awards Gala (taking place Monday, May 1 in Chicago) at which the restaurant and chef awards will be bestowed, the most-respected names in the publishing, television and digital worlds came together for the Media Awards in New York City Tuesday night.
For Travel Channel’s own Andrew Zimmern, the ceremony was both a business dinner — he hosted the jam-packed event that featured an elegant dinner prepared by previous James Beard Foundation Award-winning chefs — and a time to revel in his own work in media as well. He was nominated in two categories, including the prestigious Outstanding Personality/Host category, in which he ultimately took top honors for his multiple programs on Travel Channel: Andrew Zimmern’s Bucket List, Andrew Zimmern’s Driven by Food and Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. Through tears Andrew thanked the team at Travel Channel and his family, and he explained what drove him to share the world’s (most-unique) food through his experiences. “What I really wanted to do was make a show about people and about a quality in the world that seemed to be having it less and less of it all the time,” he said, “and telling stories about the things that brought us together rather than the things that divided us.”