2014 James Beard Foundation book award winners announced

JBF award winners

The James Beard Foundation announced the 2014 book award winners. Heston Blumenthal's Historic Heston, one of the tomes that didn't even make the IACP nominee list, won both its category (Cooking from a Professional Point of View) and Cookbook of the Year. Other books that didn't make the IACP nominee list but won their respective categories were Every Grain of Rice by Fuschia Dunlop (International), Smoke: New Firewood Cooking (General Cooking) and A Work in Progress by René Redzepi (Photography).

One cookbook made a sweep of both IACP and JBF awards: The Art of French Pastry, in the Baking and Dessert category. Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy was nominated in both lists but won only the James Beard Foundation award.

In addition to the cookbook awards, the James Beard Foundation ushered Diana Kennedy into its Cookbook Hall of Fame. You can view the complete 2014 list of JBF nominees and winners here. As always, your thoughts on the selections are welcomed.

5 Comments

  • TrishaCP  on  5/4/2014 at 8:48 AM

    These results, along with the IACP results this year, have made it clear to me that these awards are meaningless to me as a consumer of cookbooks. I wonder how much you have to pay to even be considered for an award, and if the standards for judging/nominating are open, transparent, and measurable. (Does anyone know?)

  • Queezle_Sister  on  5/4/2014 at 10:06 PM

    While I don't know anything about Historic Heston (nor am I terribly interested), I do think there are some good solid choices here -- Every grain of rice, Lucky Peach (repeatedly), etc. I agree with TrishaCP in that my cookbook purchasing isn't influenced by awards, it seems a bit of a cheap shot to imply that the awards are bought. Their web site says this about selection: "Each award category has an individual Awards committee made up of industry professionals who volunteer their time to oversee the policies, procedures, and selection of judges for their respective Awards program."

  • TrishaCP  on  5/4/2014 at 10:52 PM

    Interesting that the web site doesn't seem to address how books may be nominated and how they are chosen for each category. I don't think it is a cheap shot to question the role application fees would play in garnering a nomination, especially in the absence of information. If it is high, that could keep out anyone but the bigger publishing houses from applying-it would be a shame to miss books that don't have a huge publishing budget to back them, but I'm sure it happens.

  • tsusan  on  5/6/2014 at 10:42 AM

    Hi TrishaCP, I think I can answer a bit of your question, having now worked once as a Beard judge. The publishers do have to submit and pay for any books they want to enter, which leads to a mix of the genuinely meritorious and the generously bankrolled. I don't think I'm disclosing anything I shouldn't by saying: The selection process is very confidential - all the judges get all the books in a given category (dozens!) - but nobody knows how many judges there are or who they are. There is no conferring with each other and no consensus-building. As far as I can tell it's a straight majority vote. As a process, I can see how this could lead to some idiosyncratic results, and I certainly don't agree with some of the final nominees and winners. I'm just glad I agreed with the eventual winner in my category...

  • TrishaCP  on  5/9/2014 at 7:21 AM

    Thanks for the insights Susie...fascinating.

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