Not only did I open up my mailbox today to spot Ethan Stowell's face on the (weirdly photoshopped) cover of Food & Wine magazine's annual "Best New Chefs" issue -- here's his profile on the magazine's website -- but I also received an email from the James Beard Foundation announcing the winners of this year's restaurant and writing awards.
If you don't count Mario Batali as an honorary Seattleite, our fair city was shut out of most of the national awards -- it's always an uphill battle getting enough votes to win out over the Bay Area and New York restaurants (full disclosure: I'm a judge). The lone Beard this year goes to Holly Smith of Cafe Juanita, who won Best Chef Northwest, beating out Stowell, Maria Hines, Jason Wilson, and some chef from that other food-obsessed city around here. Congratulations!
I have one sour note, because I've got the keyboard and my blood sugar is perilously near zero. Have any of the judges visited Tartine in San Francisco, winner of the 2008 Best Pastry Chef award, any time lately? The friends I stay with every time I return to SF live a couple blocks from the place, and for the past year or two, a lot of us have noticed that the line-out-the-door pastry shop now specializes in burned croissants and overbaked cookies. Neither Bakery Nouveau nor Cafe Besalu -- Seattle bakeries I esteem far more highly -- would be caught dead putting that crap on the shelves.
UPDATE: Thanks to a commenter, I realized that I neglected to mention Maneki, which was presented with one of five America's Classics Awards. The awards were announced at the same time the finalists were announced, but the presentation was this weekend. Congratulations, Maneki!