Wow. I mean, wow. I was all aflutter a year ago when I got nominated for the James Beard Award for Best Food Blog, but I just found out this morning that I was nominated AGAIN! I am floored.
And it’s not the only award Hunter Angler Gardener Cook is up for this year: I also was nominated for Best Food Blog by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. This is probably the second-biggest award a food writer can earn; I find out if I win the IACP in Portland next month.
It has occurred to me that in 18 years of work as a political reporter, covering several presidential elections, numerous governor’s races, untold legislative races, a decade-plus of legislative coverage, with a handful of top-flight investigative stories to my credit (I once got the head of the Republican Party indicted in Minnesota, and a story I wrote got the state of California to finally enforce pesticide laws after I brought to light the fact that lax enforcement was killing farm workers) — the closest I came to a major journalism award was a whiff of a Pulitzer for stories our whole staff worked on when US Sen. Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash.
And yet here, with a blog that will not turn three years old until November, I already been nominated for food writing’s greatest awards. Did I miss my calling? Waste all those years?
I prefer to think not. I enjoyed politics for many, many years; covering the competition for scarce resources can be riveting. Not so much any more, however, thus all this food writing. Still, can I say I am floored again? I’m floored.
In the Beard Awards, I am up against two extremely good blogs, Grub Street and Serious Eats. Both are huge sites, with zillions of readers, done by teams of writers. I don’t read Grub Street all that often (guess I should!) but I read Serious Eats every day. If I lose to either behemoth, so be it. Consider Holly and me as the Cornell or Northern Iowa of this bracket.
In the IACP awards, I am up against SF Weekly in San Francisco and its sister paper in Houston. Both are more traditional blogs, with quick-hit news items and a strong focus on the local restaurant scene. Both those guys are seasoned pros in the food world.
With all these nominations, I am just hoping to not become the Susan Lucci of the food writer world. Last year I watched while Kelly Choi botched the reading of the nominees at the Beard Awards, letting the cat out of the bag that my soon-to-be-friends at Sunset magazine had won the award, leaving Bon Appetit’s Andrew Knowlton and I holding our drinks. In the end, I didn’t mind that the Sunset peeps won — they have a good message and they are excellent folks.
At any rate, I learn whether I am the winner May 2 at a ceremony in New York City. Manhattan in May is wonderful; I grew up across the river in New Jersey and spent much of my youth there. It’ll be good to get back. Regardless of what happens, it is quite a thing to be so recognized.
One more note: If you read this space and are going to be at either the IACP conference in Portland or the Beard Awards in NYC, let me know — I’d like to meet you in person. And to all of you who are arriving here for the first time because of these nominations, welcome! I hope you like what you find.