A number of the 1994 James Beard Awards, announced in New York May 2, went to Californians. The Perrier Restaurant of the Year Award: Spago. Humanitarian of the Year: Spago's owners, Barbara Lazaroff and Wolfgang Puck. Outstanding Wine Service: Valentino. Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year: Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard.
Three winners of of the Beard Book Awards were also by Californians. Fruits, Vegetables and Grains: "Faye Levy's International Vegetable Cookbook," by Faye Levy. Entertaining and Special Occasions: "Festive Occasions Cookbook," by Chuck Williams and Joyce Goldstein (tied with "Celebrations," by Joe Famularo). Italy: "Italy in Small Bites," by Carol Field. (Cookbook of the Year was not won by a Californian, though: it was Madhur Jaffrey's "A Taste of the Far East.")
Californians also did well in the Julia Child Cookbook Awards, given by the International Assn. of Culinary Professionals April 23. Bread, Baking and Sweets: "Bread Alone," by Daniel Leader and Judith Blahnik. General: "Fields of Greens: New Vegetarian Recipes From the Celebrated Greens Restaurant," by Annie Somerville (it also won the AICP's Cooks' Choice Award, voted by the general public). Illustrated/Photography "Greens: A Country Garden Cookbook" by Sibella Kraus and Deborah Jones. (Again, Best Cookbook of the Year went to a non-Californian, Darra Goldstein, for "The Georgian Feast.")
Yes, Your Slimness
"Be strong! You are the Condiment Czar and need not take orders from your potatoes (or your toast or your vegetables or your pasta)." Encouraging, and characteristically whimsical, words from a quarterly entitled the Dreaded Broccoli Newsletter, which aims to encourage better a diet through recipes, product evaluations and advice to the Condiment Czar. It's $14 for four issues from 121 W. 92nd St., N.Y. 10025.
Footnotes to a Nutrition Label
You may already be intensely aware of the new FDA-mandated nutritional labels that go into effect Sunday, perhaps from the TV and radio public service announcements, or the note on baseball scoreboards or the postal cancellations in some areas reading, "The New Food Label: Check It Out." In brief, 90% of processed foods will now have to give more detail on their nutritional content; the serving portions the information is calculated for will be more consistent and realistic; the source of certain flavorings will be identified for people who avoid them for health or religious reasons; and products will be permitted cautious notes mentioning links between nutrients and health, if the FDA recognizes those links.
Note, however, that the daily percentage figures for fats and carbohydrates are calculated for a moderately active woman or inactive man over the age of 51; younger people and most men have higher nutritional needs. Nutra-Sweet gives away a guide to calculate your needs: call (800) 632-8935.
Baby food labels will give nutritional information both for babies under 1 year and those from 1 to 4 years. Incidentally, parents should not worry that baby food labels don't give figures for calories from fat, saturated fat or cholesterol. That's intentional--babies need fat to grow. For more details, Gerber's has a hotline: (800) 4-GERBER.
If You Cook It, They Will Come
We have no idea why a company with a Midwestern name like Buckeye Beans and Herbs, Inc., is located in Spokane, Wash., but it is, and among other quaint foods it sells Baseball Pasta (shaped like balls, bats and mitts) a pasta soup mix called Extra Innings and Home Run pasta salad seasoning mix. You can order by calling (800) 449-2121.
A Dressing From the 'Hood
Students at inner-city Crenshaw High School planted a vegetable garden a while ago with the idea of raising money for their college scholarship funds. But marketing the produce didn't work, so--as has been widely reported--they devised Straight Out 'the Garden, a mild garlic- and basil-based creamy Italian dressing. (It's made by a commercial company, as health regulations virtually require, but it's still their hope for getting to college.) Straight Out 'the Garden is now available at about 2,000 supermarkets in Southern California.