The James Beard Foundation announced its 2014 Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America inductees this afternoon. Of the six recognized this year, four are chefs, including New Orleans legend John Besh and David Chang of the international Momofuku brand. Only two are writers, both of whom are Vermont residents.
"These four influential chefs and two talented journalists represent the best of the best in our culinary world," said president of the James Beard Foundation Susan Ungaro in a press release. "They join a prestigious group of over 200 people who have made a significant impact in how Americans think about food."
St. Johnsbury author Ed Behr
is no stranger to the James Beard Foundation. He's even blogged for the culinary association's website
. But the international speaker and founder of magazine the Art of Eating
wasn't expecting a call from New York's Beard House last week. "It wasn't anything that was remotely in my mind," Behr tells Seven Days
"I'm actually shocked," says multiple James Beard Foundation Award winner Barry Estabrook
of Ferrisburgh. He also got the call last week, but was sworn to secrecy until now. "This is a great day for Vermont. It's a state full of wonderful food writers and I sort of accept this on behalf of all them," he says.
Behr says he is especially surprised to see himself and Estabrook awarded the same year because most Beard honorees come from big cities. "I represent the point of view that is not a restaurant point of view," he says. "Beard restaurants are few and far between [in Vermont]." He suggests that his and Estabrook's recognition may point to a greater awareness of nature and connection to the land in the country's big-name, mainstream food culture.
Both men will receive their awards at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater at the black-tie James Beard Foundation Awards Gala on May 5.