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James Beard Nods Toward Jews

Three of eight regional honored chefs are Jewish

Marc Tracy
May 10, 2011
Shakshuka at Zahav.(Zahav)
Shakshuka at Zahav.(Zahav)

According to Tablet Magazine contributing editor Joan Nathan, the honoring of three Jews out of the eight chefs who took home regional awards was unprecedented: “This is the first time it’s been like this,” said Nathan, herself a three-time Beard award-winner (for her books) and a longtime attendee. Michael Solomonov’s restaurant, Philadelphia’s Zahav, is explicitly Israeli-influenced, and Solomonov even mentioned last night that it is Israeli Independence Day, Nathan said. But less known is that fellow winners Tony Maws, of Craigie on Main in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Michael Tusk, of San Francisco’s Quince, are also Members of the Tribe—as is Outstanding Restaurateur Richard Melman, of Chicago, and the restaurateur behind the Outstanding Restaurant, Eleven Madison Park, Danny Meyer.

“I just thought, for the first time, Jews are being recognized for their cooking, not necessarily because they’re Jews,” Nathan told me (except at Tablet Magazine, of course!). Nathan herself will be at a food and wine tasting tonight at Murray’s Cheese, in Greenwich Village, and tomorrow will appear at the James Beard Foundation Pop-Up in Chelsea Market discussing, y’know, Jewish food.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.