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Two Oxford Chefs and an Ole Miss Alum Named James Beard Finalists

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Vishwesh Bhatt

Vishwesh Bhatt

By Laurie Triplette

ldtriplette@aol.com

Oxford was all abuzz this week, when two of our town’s most celebrated chefs and an Ole Miss Journalism alumna were named among the finalists for 2014 James Beard Foundation (JBF) Awards.

JBF Awards cover all aspects of the food industry. The awards are presented in five classifications: Broadcast and New Media (8 categories), Journalism (16) categories), Books (12 categories), Outstanding Restaurant Design (2 categories), and Restaurant and Chef Awards (24 categories). The JBF awards are considered the most prestigious honors awarded in the American food industry.

Vishwesh Bhatt, chef of the City Grocery Group’s Snackbar restaurant, was named one of five finalists in the category of Best Chef – South (AL, AR, FL, LA, MS, PR). Bhatt’s four competitors are all at restaurants in New Orleans.

John Currence

John Currence

John Currence, magnate of The City Grocery Group, was nominated in the American Cooking book category for his popular first cookbook, Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey: Recipes from My Three Favorite Food Groups and Then Some (Andrews McMeel Publishing). This is Currence’s first nomination for his writing skills, but it’s not his first dance at the JBF party. In 2009 he received the James Beard Award for Best Chef – South, having been nominated three times previously in that category. (For our own HottyToddy.com review of the book, click here.

The Local Palate Magazine (Charleston, South Carolina) received a JBF Visual Storytelling nomination for three features, including one by Ole Miss alum Susan Puckett titled “Dinin’ Down in the Delta.” Former food editor for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Puckett spent the Spring of 2013 as an instructor at the Ole Miss Journalism School. Puckett led a team of students on a project that culminated in a documentary publication titled DEEPER SOUTH. LAND OF PLENTY. Will Food Save the Delta or Be its Death?

Susan Puckett

Susan Puckett

The James Beard Foundation was named for the beloved cookbook author and teacher called the “Dean of American Cookery,” who mentored generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts. The foundation is dedicated to celebrating, nurturing and honoring America’s diverse culinary heritage. The nonprofit organization accomplishes this mission through programs that include educational initiatives, food industry awards, an annual national food conference, leadership awards programs, culinary scholarships and publications.

The 2014 James Beard Awards will be held in New York City May 2 and 5. The Book, Broadcast, and Journalism Awards ceremony will be at Gotham Hall on Friday, May 2, and the James Beard Awards Gala will follow on Monday, May 5 at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater. For more information about the James Beard Awards, click here.

Laurie Triplette is a writer, historian, and accredited appraiser of fine arts, dedicated to preserving Southern culture and foodways. Author of the award-winning community family cookbook GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’, and editor of ZEBRA TALES (Tailgating Recipes from the Ladies of the NFLRA), Triplette is a member of the Association of Food Journalists (AFJ),Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA)  and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SOFAB). Check out the GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’ web site: www.tripleheartpress.com and follow Laurie’s food adventures on Facebook and Twitter (@LaurieTriplette).

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