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Julia Child
Nancy Silverton, taste maker
Nancy Silverton, taste maker

The last time an Angeleno won the James Beard Foundation's outstanding chef award — a very big deal — it was 1998, smoking had just been banned in the state's restaurants, and Wolfgang Puck was the awardee. This year, a woman who once was Spago's pastry chef took home the honors: Nancy Silverton, a founder of seminal fooderies Campanile, La Brea Bakery, Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza. Silverton has bounced back from Bernie Madoff's takedown of her nest egg, with more Mozzas, including one in Singapore. L.A. eats on its own terms, set in part by Silverton herself. What does the award mean? I think it almost means more to the staff than it does to me....

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