Boy, talk about surprises. That sound you just heard wasn’t the Santa Anas blowing, it was the collective gasp coming from the American cookbook-writing community after the James Beard Foundation selected as the best cookbook of the year “Historic Heston,” a 9-pound, 400-page slipcovered deluxe edition that retails for $200, if you can find a copy for sale.
The much-anticipated restaurant awards will be presented Monday night.
The winning book, by the well-known British chef Heston Blumenthal, is a lavishly illustrated look back at the history of English cuisine and a reimagining of some of its dishes. Though it was published to a few respectful reviews, it did not exactly burn up the charts.
Still, it triumphed at the Beard awards Friday night, beating out such popular favorites as Deborah Madison’s “Vegetable Literacy” and Shauna James Ahern’s “Gluten-Free Girl Every Day.”
The only Southern California author to be honored was Martha Rose Shulman, who co-wrote “The Art of French Pastry” with French Pastry School’s Jacquy Pfeiffer. It won the Baking and Dessert category.
Mexican cooking legend Diana Kennedy was selected for the foundation’s Cookbook Hall of Fame.
American Cooking: “The New Midwestern Table: 200 Heartland Recipes,” by Amy Thielen; Beverage: “The Cocktail Lab: Unraveling the Mysteries of Flavor and Aroma in Drink, with Recipes,” by Tony Conigliaro; Cooking From a Professional Point of View: “Historic Heston," by Heston Blumenthal; General Cooking: “Smoke: New Firewood Cooking,” by Tim Byres; International: “Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking,” by Fuchsia Dunlop; Focus on Health: “Gluten-Free Girl Every Day,” by Shauna James Ahern with Daniel Ahern; Reference and Scholarship: “Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine One Plate at a Time,” by Adrian Miller; Photography: “René Redzepi: A Work in Progress,” by photographers Ali Kurshat Altinsoy, Ditte Isager, René Redzepi, Lars Williams and the Noma Team; Writing and Literature: “Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us,” by Michael Moss; Single Subject: “Culinary Birds: The Ultimate Poultry Cookbook,” by John Ash with James O. Fraioli; Vegetable-Focused and Vegetarian: “Vegetable Literacy,” by Deborah Madison; Baking and Dessert: “The Art of French Pastry,” by Jacquy Pfeiffer with Martha Rose Shulman.
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