I dropped off the blogosphere grid this past week. And now I must tell you why. I’m always so impressed when people still produce thrilling blog content when they are hijacked by life. But alas, I am not thrilling like that.
Do you recognize that classy looking man in the chair?
How about now? He was my dean in culinary school.
It’s Jacques Pepin! Culinary legend. A class act. A true food hero. One of the last great chefs in my opinion. He wrote a quote for my book jacket when Food Heroes was published. And on this night we were here for the IACP awards… and Food Heroes was nominated.
This was the red carpet. I think it needed a bit of a vacuum.
And this was the inside. It’s safe to say that this is as close as I’ll ever get to the Oscars.
And this was Jesus. Okay, it was actually Jim Hightower. But he is sort of an icon in these parts. And he wore a glittering silver shirt that made him glow wherever he went.
And look! It’s Penny De Los Santos and Rick Bayless, presenting an award for photography. More on Penny in a minute.
Oh Dorie Greenspan. She glows too. During the IACP conference we whispered about how we were going to pull off “glitter,” at the ceremony.
“I don’t do glitter,” she whispered.
“Neither do I,” I whispered back.
But then there she was… glittering. And guess what? She won the big cookbook award for “Around My French Table” a few hours later. Congratulations Dorie, you so deserve it.
Here was my category: “Culinary Writing with Recipes.” It was funny to see my name up there on the screen. It was me and two writers from Saveur. And guess what? I didn’t win. It’s okay. I honestly never expected to. Among thousands of entries I was rather shocked to be one of three finalists. And grateful. My first book was nominated and it was one chapter in particular, the last one that they picked, the one chapter that began the whole book writing journey, the one about France, where I sat and dreamed up the idea of this book to begin with. Maybe they saw all of that naive optimism in my wide-eyed writing as I drove my bicycle around France, and taught myself stick-shift just to be able to drive and meet my favorite fig grower and eat figs. The chapter was called “Fig Heaven.” The nomination was a nod to my time in France and where all of this began. Ironically, the writer that won wasn’t there because… he was in France. Smart guy.
Speaking of bicycle riding, Penny organized a “Food Truck Bike Crawl” for some of us to celebrate Gaby’s birthday. I ate so much that I hurt. And then I pedaled some more and ate some more and hurt some more. But with queso and guacamole and tacos and quail and donuts in places that call themselves “Farm to Trailer,” how can I not want a taste? This is a little video of our foray on the hot Texas blacktop at dusk. One of those experiences that I won’t soon forget with some of my favorite people to be sure: Elise from Simply Recipes, Gaby from What’s Gaby Cooking, Todd and Diane from White on Rice Couple, and Penny, ohhh Penny. I’m sure I’ll have more stories to tell about her soon.
And then the next night? We went to celebrate Hank Shaw’s new book “Hunt, Gather, Cook.” Yes, more wonderful food. And I sat next to the most wonderful Texas farmer couple and found new friends in them. And Penny and Elise ended up in the back of my car, somehow.
If you didn’t have a chance to attend IACP, all of the sessions are available on demand for a steal of a price. A lot of people who watched it live online remarked that watching Penny and Kim Severson’s session alone was worth the cost of the pass. I agree, the content was remarkable. Check out the agenda and stage here.