I think many of us might still be recovering from a very wonderful time spent celebrating the winners of the Seattle Weekly Food Awards at Il Bistro last night. We had an amazing crowd covering all aspects of the food industry, and it was pure joy to get to see so many people out of their aprons, so to speak.
The focus of this event is to honor those working in Seattle and the environs who honor best the spirit of Seattle's very own Angelo Pellegrini. Best known as the author of The Unprejudiced Palate, Pellegrini championed a lifestyle oh so fashionable in our city today but a rarity back in 1948 when the book was published, at least in this country. He grew his own food, made his own wine, and championed a lifestyle that went against the grain of the canned food cookbooks of the time.
First, I have to say was completely taken with the awards themselves this year, handcrafted one-of-a-kind boxes engraved with the name of the winners, each containing a small kaleidoscope (provided by Northwest Fine Woodworking). Last year's Pellegrini Award winner, Armandino Batali, presented the award to Greg Atkinson, who if he were any more gracious I just might have lost it or latched on to him like a koala. Chef, author and one-man recipe depository, I'd say the committee couldn't have picked a finer match.
This year's Innovation Award went to Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi, chef/owners of Joule Restaurant in Wallingford. The crowd obviously agreed, as all Joule lovers were revealed by hoots and hollers at the announcement. We honored them for the couple's fearless approach to marrying their love of Korean cuisine with other cuisine, and in the process, creating a bustling neighborhood gathering place. Beyond fusion, Yang and Chirchi erase all boundaries from the chalkboard, guided only by what works together. They were even mentioned in the Wall Street Journal this week in an article on the same topic. Seif commented on how much Korean's love to brag and that they are excited to be the toast of Seoul once our issue comes online tomorrow and Rachel's family gets a hold of it. (CK, make sure to check web hits from Korea this week!)
Sadly George and Eiko Vojkovich of Skagit River Ranch, who received our Sustainability Award this year, were unable to attend, as life on the farm needs intense minding this time of year. I saw the pair after Sunday's farmers market, and they were so bummed to miss it. If only they could have heard the crowd reaction when we announced their names. Everybody make sure to stop and clap when you see them at the University or West Seattle farmers market next weekend. (George and Eiko, Chris Curtis from the Farmers Market Alliance kindly accepted your award for you, and your beans!)
Ah yes, another tiny bit of magic from the evening... Last year's Sustainability Award winner, Mark Musick, brought beans for the winners, beans he cultivates on Vashon Island brought there by the man himself, Angelo Pellegrini.
The wine was flowing, and we had a few specialty cocktails (designed by moi with help from friends at Pinnacle vodka and a giant assist from Nabil, bartender extraordinaire). Maybe those recipes will show up somewhere sometime soon, especially the Makers Mark Red & Black Manhattan. Thank you so much to Il Bistro, especially Nick and Parris, for taking such great care of our guests and providing such a lovely atmosphere. (more photos available HERE)
Food people, why don't we see each other like this more often? How's next Monday for you?