Thanks to the web, most of the nominated pieces for this years’ prestigious food writing awards are online to read. So pull up a chair and dip into 2015’s best food writing, according to judges for the James Beard Journalism Awards and the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) food writing awards.
Two things about food bloggers I noticed in the awards categories:
- It’s not news, but it still bugs me. The non-cookbook awards are about journalism and traditional writing. Bloggers are nominated only in
blog categories. (IACP has two blogging categories, Narrative Culinary and Recipe Based. See end of list below.)
- Individual food bloggers are not recognized by Beard. While there’s a category called Food Blog, this year’s finalists are Andrew Zimmern, Lucky Peach, and Serious Eats. Individual bloggers don’t stand a chance, because the finalists have a staff or celebrity status or huge platforms. What’s wrong with a category called “Best Individual Food Blog?”
Regardless, there’s lots to learn from and enjoy, worth your reading time. And you’ll notice more women nominees than usual, which is worth celebrating.
Here’s some of the best food writing of 2015:
(This is not a complete list of nominations. I’ve included only those with links. Note that the online titles might be different from the print edition.)
1. James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards
“America’s Best Food Cities,” Tom Sietsema, The Washington Post
“A Modern Guide to Timeless London, ” Lauren Collins, Bon Appétit
“Kiss My Grits,” Shane Mitchell, The Bitter Southerner
“In Search of Ragu,” Matt Goulding, Roads & Kingdoms
“Straight-Up Passing,” John Birdsall, Jarry
“The Healthy Cook’s Guide to Fat,” Sidney Fry and Robin Bashinsky, Cooking Light
“How to Eat Healthy(ish),” Jon Wilde, GQ
“Eat, ”Francis Lam, The New York Times Magazine
“Edible Life,” Corby Kummer, New Republic
“OtherWise,” Todd Kliman, The Washingtonian
“Corn Wars,” Ted Genoways, New Republic
“Seafood From Slaves – An AP Investigation Helps Free Slaves in the 21st Century,” by Martha Mendoza, Margie Mason, and Robin McDowell, Associated Press
“48 Hours that Changed the Future of Rainforests,”Nathanael Johnson, Grist
“Cook Like a Pro!” Adam Rapoport, Bon Appétit
“Three Dishes: Gnocchi” Brette Warshaw, Lucky Peach
@Freshcutgardenhose, Maryse Chevriere, Instagram
“Ham to Ham Combat: The Tale of Two Smithfields,” Emily Wallace, Gravy
“Stone-Ground Killer,” Julia Reed, Garden & Gun
“The Chef Who Saved My Life,” Brett Martin, GQ
“On Chicken Tenders,” Helen Rosner, Guernica
“The Brief, Extraordinary Life of Cody Spafford,” Allecia Vermillion, Seattle Met Magazine
“Christiane Lauterbach: The Woman Who Ate Atlanta,” Wendell Brock, The Bitter Southerner
“Edna Lewis and the Black Roots of American Cooking,” Francis Lam, The New York Times Magazine
“How to Make the World’s Best Cheeseburger, Using Magic,” Eric Gillin and Andrew Jive,
“One Night: Kachka,” Erin DeJesus, Danielle Centoni, Jen Stevenson, Dina Avila, McGraw Wolfman, Eater
“Smells the Same, ”Joana Avillez, Lucky Peach
“Four Star Semilla Is New York’s Next Great Restaurant”, “How to Navigate Shuko, New York’s Most Exciting New Japanese Restaurant”, “Contra and Wildair Are the Anti-Elitist Icons of NYC Cuisine,” Ryan Sutton, Eater
“A Health Food Restaurant so Cool It Will Have You Happily Eating Seeds”, “Revisiting Momofuku Ko, After the Revolution”, “Polo Bar Review: Ralph Lauren Corrals the Fashionable Herd,” Tejal Rao, Bloomberg Pursuits
“Spoon & Stable”, “Gilding the Chicken”, “A Second Act for the Forum?” Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, Mpls.St.Paul Magazine
“My Father and the Wine,” Irina Dumitrescu, The Yale Review
“The Second Most Famous Thing to Happen to Hiroshima,” Matt Goulding, Roads & Kingdoms
2. IACP Food Writing Nominees
Ravioli: Chef Michael Tusk reveals the secrets to his swoonworthy stuffed pasta, Michael Tusk, Fine Cooking
The Secret to Better Brownies: You Must Whip It, Sam Worley, Epicurious
What Most People Get Wrong About Making Hummus, Maureen Abood, The Washington Post
The Fisherman’s Dilemma, Paul Greenberg, The Food & Environmental Reporting Network/California Sunday Magazine
A Refugee Cooks His Way Home, John Birdsall, Food & Wine
The Secret Life of Cheese, Mark Hay, Roads & Kingdoms
In Search of Ragu, Matt Goulding, Roads & Kingdoms
The Mistress of Portugal’s Alentejo, David Leite, Leite’s Culinaria
Uncharted, Lisa Hamilton, The California Sunday Magazine, with Food & Environment Reporting Network.
Brown Butter Apple Tart, Phyllis Grant, Food52
Time to Table Farm-to-Table? Corby Kummer, Vanity Fair
10 Rules of BBQ, Guide to dining in OC’s Little Saigon, Review of Twenty Eight, Review of Sushi Roku, Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register
Frankenrecipe, Rhoda Boone and Matt Duckor, Epicurious
Sunny Side Up, More Than a Name, With Sugar on Top, The Sweetness of Mexico, Francis Lam, The New York Times Magazine
“Fields of Toxic Pesticides Surround the Schools of Ventura County—Are They Poisoning the Students?”Liza Gross, The Nation, with the Food & Environment Reporting Network
Good Seed, Bad Seed, Barry Estabrook, EatingWell
You are What Washington, D.C., Wants You to Eat, Heather Rogers, TakePart.com
Narrative Culinary Blog
Elizabeth Minchilli in Rome, Elizabeth Minchilli
Food for the Thoughtless, Michael Procopio
Three Little Halves, Aleksandra Mojsilovic
Recipe Based Blog
Food Market Gypsy, Susie Norris
Recipe Posts on The Heritage Cook, Jane Bonacci
The Weiser Kitchen,Tami Ganeles Weiser
For a complete list of nominees in their categories, see Eater and the James Beard Foundation website. And if you’re attending the IACP conference this weekend, I’ll see you there.
What I find about Best Writing anything is that either the piece is extremely interesting and very well written or… it’s all about name recognition. Sometimes I am blown away by a story and sometimes I am astonished at what passes for “Best”.
I suppose that means all is right with the world, because taste is sometimes subjective. All these pieces are judged blind, but I bet it’s not that hard to figure out who wrote them. That was true for me when I have been a judge.
Michael Procopio says
I’m so happy IACP still feels that individual food bloggers deserve their own category.
The James Beard organization decided to drop the Individual Food Blog category this year, much to my deep disappointment. The Individual Food Blog category was, in my opinion, a great way to recognize unique voices in food writing. Combining the category with Group Blog, as they’ve done this year, has made it extra challenging for personal voices to get recognized which, in my opinion, was the most important facet of the Individual Blog award.
While winning awards is nice, it isn’t as important (at least to me) as getting nominated– my previous IACP and James Beard nominations made it possible to get noticed by agents, editors, and publishers. I am deeply grateful for that.
Sadly, when blogs written and created by individuals with unique voices (like Hank Shaw, Molly Wizenberg , Elissa Altman, and Lisa Fain, just to name a few) have to compete with big websites which employ professional editors, photographers, web designers, marketing specialists, and a host of other folks, it becomes even more difficult for good, up-and-coming writers to share some of the spotlight and get noticed.
I hope the Beard organization, which I believe commits itself in part to nurturing new talent, takes this into account and re-introduces the Individual Blog Award next year, so that new writers with promise can share a little bit of that aforementioned spotlight.
Well said, Michael. This is a dated old-school print attitude. I had the same idea when I wrote the first edition of Will Write for Food in 2005, where I didn’t mention bloggers. I wasn’t sure they mattered. I had a journalism degree and had been a newspaper and magazine editor. Bloggers weren’t in my world and operated outside the lines.
That was 10 years ago!
Gwen Pratesi says
I agree with Michael. Too many of the same people and outlets are recognized year after year and many of the pieces are written for journalism peers (who vote) and not for larger audiences. Many of them have large and strong support groups around them (PR firms, publicists, larger outlets, etc.). It’s the same situation for the chef and restaurant awards.
We are very fortunate to have been recognized for our work when they still had the Best Individual Food Blog category, so we are thankful . It has been important for our career, other opportunities, and the development of our site.
The year after we were finalists, one of the “individual” blogs that was one of the finalists was a wine blog that had a long list of contributors. According to the rules, that should have been entered as a group blog.
The process is frustrating to watch. I hope that with so many new voices, blogs, and writers entering this space the James Beard Foundation includes the Best Individual Blog Category again and finds a way to recognize the talented lesser-known online writers that don’t have a support team behind them.
Right on Gwen! And listen, there are plenty of individual blogs with much higher readerships than the publications the old-school journalists write for.
Shirl Gard says
You called it, Diane, in your Oct. 29, 2015 post – “Is your food blog good enough for a Beard Award? – when you informed all of us that this year’s awards for blogging would be narrowed to one award. It is not shocking that sites like Lucky Peach and Serious Eats are nominees is this scenario. They are both great, in my opinion, but who among us individual bloggers can compete with that? I will repeat my comment on that post:
“Shirl Gard says
November 4, 2015 at 11:22 am
I am a one-man show when it comes to food blogging. I love every minute of it: the planning, the baking, the creation and tweaking of recipes, the writing of the recipes, the photography, the writing of a story, and the organizing to make it all happen – then the repetition for the next post . It seems somewhat unfair that my one-man show would be considered in the same category where the blog post might be created by a creative director, a baker or bakers, a photographer, a recipe writer, a producer/organizer, and whatever other positions might be required. I say “nix” to this plan.”
What we all knew then has come to pass.
You are right, Shirl, no one can compete with them. Individual food bloggers are not in this category.
That post is here if anyone else wants to read it: http://diannej.com/2015/does-your-food-blog-qualify-for-a-beard-award/
Shirl Gard says
P.S. I’ve had a chance to read some of the nominated food writing. I especially liked this one from the IACP list:
The Secret to Better Brownies: You Must Whip It, Sam Worley, Epicurious
Thank you for all of the links. Great reading!
You are most welcome. I haven’t gotten to all of them myself!
Dianne, your own Lucky Peach piece is missing from these nominees. It was one of the best essays I read last year.
Oh you are sweet Paula, thank you. I didn’t apply in time for Beard (I think I was too scared). But I did apply for IACP, and the judges didn’t agree with you.
Here is the piece, if anyone would like to read it:
Greg Patent says
Thank you, Dianne, for compiling this terrific list. I’ll be reading from it for a week or two.
Yes it will take some time! You definitely can’t do it all at once. And you’re welcome.
Betty Ann Quirino says
This is a great insightful piece on writing awards. I agree with your sentiments here and those of the others about maintaining an “Individual Food Blog” award. Blogging or the word ‘blog’ is a current buzzword. I got into blogging because my sons convinced me to put my thoughts and recipes online instead of wasting paper. But many don’t know is that I was a writer and a journalist first long before ‘blogging’ came about. There are many like me who are writers first and have ventured into blogging and I personally think many are talented writers and deserve the recognition. Congratulations to all the nominees this year. I wish them all the best. Thanks for sharing this post, Dianne!
Betty, our backgrounds show that we are professional writers, just like so many of those listed for awards. But like you, I’m not doing that kind of writing anymore (other than a little personal essay here and there). I guess my gripe is that once we start writing a blog, we are no longer “professional.” We appear to be hobbyists with no editors — and no importance.
Thank you Dianne for such a complete list. So far I really enjoyed David Leite’s piece, The Mistress of Portugal’s Alentejo. I admit I am a bit biased since it regards my country. Reading some of the comments, I do believe it is not a fair process when you put in the same list blogs that have considerable resources available with others that are a one man show.
I loved that piece too. As soon as I saw David was nominated I went an read it. He is a friend.
And yes, it is not fair competition. At least IACP recognizes blogs.
An amazing resource, Dianne. Hours’ worth of quality reading! Thanks so much for putting it together.
My pleasure Clotilde. Happy reading!
Ken McBroom says
Maybe there should be a category recognizing individual efforts for small websites and blogs.
That’s an interesting idea, Ken. But then someone would have to define “small,” and someone else would object…I can see it now.
Heidi Grimwood says
Here have provided Very helpful and informative Post. And I hope this will be useful for many people…
Hannah Jackson says
Thanks for sharing information on Writing. I really appreciate it.
You are most welcome!