Yesterday, we made the thrilling announcement that a time, a date and a place had finally been chosen for the Voracious Tasting & Food Awards--our (kinda) 1st annual Seattle food-and-drinks bachanalia to be held on April 14 at the Paramount Theatre. There's gonna be chefs. There's gonna be music. There's gonna be food and booze and crowds and everything else good under the sun (all of which you can read about at the Voracious Tasting website), and if you care at all about those kinds of things you really ought to be making plans right now. I'm just sayin'...
But one thing I glossed rather quickly over in yesterday's post was that, this year, we're also going to be publicly bestowing three big-time awards on three deserving chefs, producers, winemakers, restaurants or organizations. There's an award for Innovation which will be handed down to the chef or restaurant in the Puget Sound area who is getting the most freaky with their food--truly pushing the boundaries of creativity and advancing the evolution of the local dining scene. There's an award for Sustainability which will honor those making a major contribution to "sustainable agriculture and environmentally responsible food production," whether it be on the level of farming, growing and ranching or, at the other end of the food chain, a chef or restaurant owner making sure that we're not all going to die of mercury poisoning just from eating a little sushi.
The third award being given out this year is the Pellegrini Award, named for the late Seattle writer, teacher, winemaker, scholar and cook, Angelo Pellegrini. And it is with this award that we need a little help.
Because the Pellegrini Award is such a big deal, we've decided to open our deliberations up to suggestions from you, the public. This year's award criteria have been broken down by a panel of past award winners and notable local food personalities, all of whom have been inspired by the legacy of Angelo Pellegrini. What they came up with in terms of who should be considered for the award is this:
1) A person whose efforts [in their life and in their work] foster the "good life" as
it encompasses food, wine, community, and the joys of the table.
2) A person whose efforts not only display passion and generosity but
also have influenced many others over the years.
3) A Pellegrini Award nominee will have embodied the above criteria for at least 10 years.
That's the official word. But there's also a sort of informal standard at work here--which is that a nominee for an award named after a guy like Angelo Pellegrini ought to also take his or her inspirations from similar places and do whatever it is they do (cook or brew or serve or grow) with the same sort of passion.
Therefore, knowing a little something about the man is important here. Back in Denver, my buddy Dave had a line for guys like Pellegrini. "Dude isn't old-school," he'd say. "Dude built the old school." Which meant that whoever it was we were talking about didn't just have a history with something, but rather was a piece of that history.
Angelo Pellegrini certainly qualifies in that regard. This was a man who wrote books (1948's The Unprejudiced Palate in particular) that became more culty among certain chefs and food producers than any volume of Harold McGee or early Marco Pierre White; who was deeply invested in the tenets of the Slow Food movement long before it had a name, a logo or meetings. He was a proponent of seasonal cooking, of sustainability and locality (no matter your locale) before caring about any such thing was hip, cool or convenient. He talked (and wrote) about cooking simply, with ingredients close at hand, at a time when the nascent American food scene was just becoming obsessed with complicated gallery presentations and foods from far-off lands. He was, in effect, a man who would've been perfectly at home writing about food today, but in terms of the modern mantras of simplicity, seasonality and locality, somehow managed to beat all of us--chefs and writers included--by a good fifty years. More than anything, he seems to be a man who found joy and inspiration in food, wine and good conversation--hence all that "good life" talk up top.
So what we're asking you good people is simply this: Who in your life, in your community, does this remind you of? We want to hear about the veteran butchers and chefs who work from their own gardens, about the artisinal producers and farmers you buy from, the boutique winemakers you cherish, the fishermen, cooks, growers and owners who most embody the spirit of this man who had such a lasting effect, not just on the local food scene, but that of the entire nation.
You can add your suggestions/nominations in the comment section below, or email them straight to me at email@example.com and I'll make sure all reasonable suggestions make it into the hands of those making the final decision.
So think hard and dig deep, my friends. Make your case and be ready to defend it. The nomination fight begins...