If 80 percent of success is showing up, Ruth Bourdain's making the most of the remaining 20 percent.
The Twitter-only satirist last Friday won the James Beard Foundation's first-ever humor award for a stream of tweets admixing Ruth Reichl's romanticism and Anthony Bourdain's machismo. To the surprise of nobody, Ruth Bourdain beat out a Slate contributor and my former colleague, Alice Laussade.
The book and journalism awards ceremony is very much an industry event: Participating for the first time this year, I was struck by how much the program reminded me of employee-recognition banquets I've attended with my insurance-selling husband. Co-hosts Ted Allen and Gail Simmons had many, many nominee names to read.
But the potential appearance of Ruth Bourdain helped distract attendees from standard gripes about seating charts and unfilled glasses of wine. Even Allen and Simmons seemed anxious to learn who would accept the award, and how he or she might use the 30 seconds of mike time allocated for winners.
Yet nobody stepped forward when Ruth Bourdain's name was called. An in-the-know food writer later told me she'd seen Ruth Bourdain on the train before the event, headed to another party.
Still, Ruth Bourdain's hinted an unmasking might be in the works.
"Thank you so much for all of your tweets!," RuBo tweeted this morning. "I have to go now to meet @HughAcheson to get our brows threaded. See you at the #jbfa awards."
Finalist Laussade was one of four losers seated at my table, but we did celebrate tablemate Jim Villas' victory in the American Cooking category of the cookbook competition. Other winners included Diana Kennedy for Cookbook of the Year, the San Francisco Chronicle for Best Food Section, and Jonathan Gold for Distinguished Writing. The complete results are here.