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Renee Erickson, our Best Chef Northwest. Screen shot via the James Beard Awards livestream.

Tonight the James Beard Awards were bestowed in a TV-themed ceremony in Chicago, hosted by a majestically coiffed Carla Hall and replete with food-related television clips of everyone from Martha Stewart to Saved By the Bell to Cookie Monster. I know I say this every year, but can some saucy cable channel (probably Bravo) just televise these awards already? You have a room full of big personalities who are at least mildly tipsy and prone to colorful language.

Seattle didn't have too many chefs in the mix tonight, but happily it was one of our own who took the stage to accept the award for Best Chef Northwest. A huge congrats to Renee Erickson, who took the stage to the Northern Exposure theme (c'mon, people...really?) and thanked all of Seattle and all her fishers, farmers, and purveyors before launching into shoutouts for her staff, business partners, loved ones, etc. Whale Wins chef Marie Rutherford was up there with her.

Canlis was nominated for Outstanding Wine Program, an award that went to...Bern's Steakhouse. In Florida. Which is disappointing for many reasons, foremost being my fantasy of Nelson Daquip and the Brothers Canlis being played up to the stage to the Miami Vice theme or some such.

There's another hour to go in the ceremony, so I'll update this if anything crazy happens. Meanwhile, congrats to everyone...please party safely in Chicago tonight.

Random Observations:

  • "Commercials, remember those?" --Carla Hall in a show that excels at sponsorships.
  • Maybe it's just me, but the choice of which TV theme song to play as each chef accepted his/her award was full of unintentional hilarity. Like, what does it say about you if the Beard committee decided, "yeah, let's play that guy up to the Simpsons"? And what about this guy taking the stage to the theme from Friends?
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  • Carla Hall went through a costume and spectacle change halfway through but it was her hair that rightfully became a major topic of presenter banter. "I want Carla's hair," the presenter of the Outstanding Wine Program told the crowd. "I'll take a picture and send it to my wig maker.".
  • Ming Tsai hosted the James Beard writer awards last week, which can be a tryout to host the chef ceremony. He was funny and just irreverent enough; let's hope he gets the gig next year.
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