John Currence of City Grocery in Oxford, Mississippi, scooped up the Best Chef in the South Award at the James Beard Foundation Ceremonies last night -- disappointing our three homegrown favorites: Zach Bell of Cafe Boulud, Douglas Rodriguez of Ola, and Michael Schwartz of Michael's Genuine Food and Drink. And we'd just like to say that with all due respect to Currence, those judges wouldn't know a great chef if one jumped out of a blackbird pie at their dinner table.
Just kidding. But I'm disappointed. I ate at Rodriguez's Ola for the first time a couple of months ago (and was blown away), I've been a fan of Michael's Genuine since it opened, and anyone who follows me knows I have a deep and abiding food-crush on Zach Bell. And thanks to Carolina Bolado over at SouthFloridamenupages for her live tweets from the Beard awards banquet last night, where she described everything from Martha Stewart's jacket to Michelle Bernstein's sea-urchin sandwiches in 140-character installments: They were a hoot. Next year, damn it, I'm going!
PS: Check out Zach Bell's cooking on the downlow during Palm Beach Restaurant Month: Get details here.