Nicole Plue, Koren Grieveson Are the Only Women Chefs to Win Beard Awards

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Monday night, the upper echelon of the restaurant world gathered in New York City to toast amazing and innovative cooking. The James Beard Foundation Awards, which celebrate everything from innovative cuisine to great wine lists, drew culinary heavy hitters from around the country for a night of feasting and feting. Many call it the Oscars of food. But, as the restaurant world is a male-dominated industry, it comes as very little surprise that most of those who received medals were men.

Women were well represented in the list of nominees, which was posted by Partysugar of Yumsugar after they were announced in March. But last night, when the awards were handed out, the only women who walked away with medals were Nicole Plue of Redd in Yountville, CA, for Outstanding Pastry Chef; and Koren Grieveson of Avec in Chicago; for Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH).

Mary Sue of Eat, Drink, and Be Mary Sue congratulated Plue on the victory and recalled tasting her pastry during a recent meal:

Some of y'all may remember my family and I had a lovely lunch at Redd last month. We also had lovely desserts at Redd last month. The apple tart? I’d drive to California RIGHT NOW for one, if I, you know, didn’t have to be at work and stuff.

So congratulations to Chef Nicole Plue, you deserve it.

Outstanding Pastry Chef: Nicole Plue, Redd, Yountville, CA (Photo by Kent Miller, provided by the James Beard Foundation)

San Francisco's Tablehopper, Marcia Gagliardi, caught up with Plue for the James Beard Foundation blog after the award was announced.

I asked if she was to celebrate with a single dessert tonight, what would it be? "A chocolate chip cookie, right out of the oven."

Eddie Gehman of Obamarama applauded Grieveson for her win. Gehman got to know Grieveson through her cooking stint at the White House last fall:

Last November, Grieveson became the second female chef to guest cook at the White House, when she joined First Lady Michelle Obama and the White House chefs in giving cooking demonstrations at the Healthy Kids Fair on the South Lawn. The very talented Grieveson is a pal of Food Initiative Coordinator Sam Kass, who also worked at Avec before he became the best-known food policy wonk in America.

Best Chef, Great Lakes: Koren Grieveson, Avec, Chicago (Photo by Kent Miller, provided by the James Beard Foundation)

Grieveson and Kass also worked together at Chicago's Blackbird restaurant. She was trained at the Culinary Institute of America, and then trained and worked with high-profile chefs; read her impressive resume. Grieveson demonstrated zucchini quesadillas for Mrs. Obama and a pack of excited school kids at the Healthy Kids Fair, which Mrs. Obama pronounced "so delicious."

I'd like to join my voice with those congratulating Nicole Plue and Koren Grieveson for their achievement, and would also like to congratulate the rest of the winners. Thanks to all of you for everything you do to elevate cooking across the nation.

Genie blogs about gardening and food at The Inadvertent Gardener, and tells very short tales at 100 Proof Stories. She also tells stories with photos at 5x52.

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