Joseph Lenn, Sandor Katz of Tennessee Take Prizes at Last Night's Beard Awards Gala

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Beard winner Joseph Lenn works the grill as part of the Martins BBQ team
  • Beard winner Joseph Lenn works the grill as part of the Martin's BBQ team
You know the old saying that pops up at awards time: "It's an honor just to be nominated." When it comes to the James Beard Awards, that old saw is definitely apt. While hometown hero Tandy Wilson didn't win the big prize of Best Chef-Southeast, and soon-to-be part-time Nashvillager Sean Brock lost out to David Chang and Paul Kahan for the Outstanding Chef award, I'm pretty sure that both of them have medals in their future. Plus, they're good friends with the other nominees in their categories, and it's generally a very supportive and collaborative culture among the chef community. Go here and click the link to see a PDF list of the winners.

And raise a glass to all the winners and nominees!

Middle Tennessee did contribute to some of the hardware that was taken home from last night's ceremony at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City. Joseph Lenn, the chef at Blackberry Farm who did win Best Chef-Southeast last night, spent three years in Nashville helping to open the new restaurant at the Hermitage Hotel working under, ironically enough, Sean Brock. Did I mention how tightly knit and incestuous this culinary family tree is?

Last weekend, the James Beard Foundation announced the media awards, and why no Bites commenters won the blog awards (I was rooting for y'all), the CBS Sunday Morning "Eat, Drink and Be Merry" episode did take home the gold for Best Television Program, In Studio or Fixed Location. If you remember, that was the episode that featured a very entertaining segment recounting the history and demonstrating the production process of Nashville's own Goo Goo Cluster.

A big winner from the area was the King of Fermentation himself, Sandor Katz, who's based in Cannon County. His book The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World won kudos as the best cookbook of the year in the Reference and Scholarship category. That's a big-time recognition, and we should offer hearty congratulations to Katz.

If you'd like to learn about fermentation from the Beard-winning master himself, you've got a great opportunity coming up.

The Skillery has added a new class at 11 a.m., Saturday, May 18, where Katz will host a two-hour workshop covering the basics of fermentation. If you've ever wanted to learn how to harness the power those lovely little yeasty beasties, this is a chance to learn from the best.

Considering that so many of your favorite food and drinks probably depend on some form of fermentation (beer, wine, booze, pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, soy sauce, salami, etc.), it's probably something worth knowing about.

The class will be held at Green Door Gourmet, and costs only $35. For more information or to sign up, head over to the Skillery site.

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