5:57 PM: Mario Batali is not nervous.

6:01 PM: Jean-Georges Vongerichten looking dapper as usual.

6:05 PM: Cokie Roberts is an extraordinarily gracious and charming host.

6:24 PM: The chefs of New Orleans are getting the humanitarian of the year. Leah Chase is a force of nature.

6:30 PM: Daniel Johnnes won for best wine and spirits professional. I don't know anything about wine, but he is a really good guy.

6:32 PM: Drew Nieporent, the restaurateur's restaurateur.

6:35 PM: Best Chef Notheast - Jean-Louis Geren.

6:38 PM: Best Chef Southwest - Brad Thompson. He is a terrific chef and human being.

6:46 PM: Cookbook hall of fame - Madhur Jaffrey. She is also an actress.

6:51 PM: Susanne Goins won for best cookbook. From a professional point of view I like her because she had her wedding at the best pizzeria in the world pizzeria Bianco. She had pizza and roast pig at her reception. How cool is that

7:03 PM: Fabbio Trabocchi. Great name. I've never had his food but friends tell me he is really good.

Best Chef Southeast - John Besh. I had his food a month ago. A little fussy but pretty delicious nonetheless.

7:04 PM: This is very moving this evening there is a lot of love for New Orleans in this room. New Orleans is the most fascinating city in the world. Its food and music has made millions of people happy. New Orleans must come back. It is vital to our national heart and soul.

7:10 PM: Best Radio Show - If the Kitchen Sisters don't win it will be a crime. Their stuff is so much better than anyone else on the radio.

7:14 PM: Lenny Lopate won. He is good at what he does.

7:17 PM: Two very cute little girls won for Best Webcast for Spatulata.

7:22 PM: Healthy Cookbook - Nina Simonds won for Spices of Life. She is really cool. She has lived in China and written a guide. Peking eats anyone?

Food of the Americas by Joan Nathan - New American Cooking. Joan usually writes jewish cookbooks.

7:25 PM: Reference book Cheese by Max McCalman. He is nuts in the best possible way. He spreads the word about the curd.

7:31 PM: Who's who Sue Conley and Peggy Smith. They are amazing cheesemakers.

7:36 PM: Ari Weinzeig was elected to Who's Who. He is a lefty food genius who started Zingermans deli. He made up the name because it sounded Jewish and had energy.

7:38 PM: Best Pastry Chef - Johnny Iuzzini

7:41 PM: Best Chef Ca. - Suzanne Goins

7:44 PM: Suzanne Goins just gave a shout out to the immigrants who work in her restaurants. That is awesome.

7:50 PM: International Cookbook - Molto Mario. Mario won. It is a great book. I've cooked a lot from it.

7:56 PM: Writings About Food. Kitchen Sisters did not win this one either. There is no justice.

8:08 PM: I hope George Motz wins for Hamburger America in Best Food TV Special.

8:09 PM: Chefs A'field won. What can you do?

8:23 PM: Best Chef NY - Dan Barber. I predicted this one. He is one of the most thoughtful and articulate chefs around.

8:26 PM: Rising Star Chef - Corey Lee, French Laundry. I was hoping David Chang of Momofuku would win.

8:29 PM: Best New Restaurant - Modern in NY. I love to eat in the bar there.

8:33 PM: Dan Barber and Eli Manning can cook.

8:38 PM: Eli Manning

9:05 PM: Eli manning and I for my son

9:23 PM: Daniel Boulud won for Best Restaurateur. Daniel is an extraordinary, generously spirited human being, and a great cook. I feel bad for Drew Nieporent, who in many ways is the quintessential contemporary restaurateur. OF course he has won many, many other James Beard Awards before. Of course, so has Daniel.

9:27 PM: Best Chef - I bet it is going to be .... well I was wrong. Alfred Portale won and he is quite deserving for Best Chef.

10:02 PM

Ms. Willie Mae Seaton, almost ninety, maker of the best fried chicken on the plantet, is an indomitable spirit and a profile in grace,courage and perseverance. She talked to me about rebuilding her restaurant, Willie Mae's Scotchhouse, which of course had been decimated by Katrina. Please send checks made out to the Willie Mae Seaton Gulf Coast Renaissance Fund to Mary Beth Lasseter, Southern Foodways Alliance, PO Box 1848, University, Mississippi 38677. All the money will go towards rebuilding her restaurant. Recognizing the culinary and cultural achievements of people like Willie Mae is a big part of what the James Beard Foundation and the James Beard Awards are all about.


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