According to Matt Dillon, his mother was dubious of his chances to win the 2012 James Beard Award for Best Chef Northwest. Here's hoping she didn't bet against him.
"She said, 'well, it's the year of the woman'," Dillon said in his acceptance speech at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City.
Dillon, nominated for his work at Sitka & Spruce, thanked his mother; colleague Emily Crawford ("she's 100 times the cook I'll ever be") and the late Christina Choi, who opened Nettletown in the Eastlake storefront first occupied by Sitka & Spruce.
"She knew hunger, and she knew how to feed people," Dillon said.
To win the title, Dillon beat out fellow Seattle chef Jason Franey of Canlis; and Portland's Christopher Israel (Gruner), Naomi Pomeroy (Beast) and Cathy Whims (Nostrana).
"Bummer we didn't win, but a huge congrats to Matt Dillon!!," Brian Canlis tweeted in the wake of the announcement.
Seattle restaurant mogul Tom Douglas has had his share of Beard bummers: Although he won the Best Chef Northwest award in 1994, he's failed to win the coveted "outstanding restaurateur" prize each of the three previous times he was named a finalist. According to the Seattle Times, he didn't attend tonight's ceremony because he feared he'd court bad luck by being there. His legendary instincts may have served him well: He won what's widely considered one of the evening's top prizes.
Other winners in the regional Best Chef categories included Chris Hastings of Hot & Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Ala.; Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern in New York; Linton Hopkins of Atlanta's Restaurant Eugene; Paul Qui of Uchiko in Austin and Bruce Sherman of Chicago's North Pond. College towns also had a good night, with Hugh Acheson of Five & Ten Athens, Ga. and Tory Miller of L'Etoile in Madison, Wisc. taking home awards. Despite Mrs. Dillon's prediction, there were no women among the winners.