Chefs, Pigs and Green Carpets: The 2011 James Beard Foundation Awards

Kathleen Squires

The British may have their fancy royal weddings. But we Americans have a close second in pomp, circumstance, self-congratulation and style -- award ceremonies! The food world is no exception. At last night's gala gourmet event, the James Beard Foundation Awards, the crowd was as well-fed on fashion as food. And as if the Queen herself decreed it at all gala events henceforth, lots were rockin' the wacky hats.
Despite a Groupon-sponsored green carpet that made the honorees appear as if they were strolling to the 16th hole, the crowd was indeed fabulous, from top chefs to whiskey pigs. That's right -- a porcine pair promoting WhistlePig Whiskey were bizarrely escorted down the carpet by one-time Apprentice firee, Raj Bhakta.
Between sips of Plymouth gin and bites of meatballs (courtesy of The Meatball Shop), we caught some newsy bits and fashion tips from the restaurant world.
In the fall, expect a "surprising" new restaurant from Drew Nieporent's Myriad Restaurant Group; an "excitingly creative," new project from Gramercy Tavern's Michael Anthony; and 5 low-cost, Indian-inspired eateries opening across the country from Top Chef Masters contestant Suvir Saran.

After opening his restaurant in Hong Kong next week, Michael White will focus on more New York openings, while Jean-Georges Vongerichten, whose ABC Kitchen nabbed Best New Restaurant, is eyeing Korea as his next move in world food domination.

Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard will add two more restaurants to her Chicago collection by the end of the year and the ubiquitous Pichet Ong has no plans to slow down either, with expansion plans in Brooklyn and Detroit -- really!

On TV, Anne Burrell is becoming the female Bobby Flay, as she seems to be on every Food Network show ever made or conceived. She's signed on for new seasons of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, Worst Cooks in America, The Best Thing I Ever Ate, and in her spare time she'll compete to be the Next Iron Chef. The Food Network did make some room in their schedule for Donatella Arpaia, though, who is working on her own show.

Coming cookbooks include a tome from Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow of The Meatball Shop; "Cooking Without Borders" from Anita Lo; and Anne Burrell's "Cook Like a Rockstar."
Izabela Wojcik, director of house programming of the James Beard Foundation, sported sequined, satin-lined Converse All Stars with a vintage gown.

Carrots, mushrooms and berries decorated Jacques Pepin's Nicole Miller bowtie.

Suvir Saran combined an Armani jacket, Paul Smith trousers, and Yves St. Laurent shoes.

Saveur Editor-in-Chief James Oseland dressed in self-described "outlet chic," a mash up of thrift shop, H & M, and Banana Republic.

Daniel Boulud's PR princess Georgette Farkas was a golden goddess in a two-piece Susan Dell.

Thomas Keller, whose Per Se got the nod for Outstanding Service, donned Barker Black shoes, with the words "Death" on the left and "Glory" on the right.

Prune's Gabrielle Hamilton grabbed Best New York Chef honors in a sleek Salvation Army gown.

April Bloomfield bought her "first smart suit," an Armani, for the occasion.

Donatella Arpaia showed off her wedding ring, a baby bump and black Donna Karan.

Marcus Samuelsson's own brand of black-and-white bowling shoes upstaged his white suit.

And Ted Allen cut a handsome figure in his Blue Velvet Valentino jacket.

Photos by Hernan F. Rodriguez

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