Not that all the winners of the major Beard Awards weren't worthy of their honors. But only 2007 RH Rising Star Nate Appleman from San Francisco's A16 was able to break through New York City's culinary hegemony at the 2009 awards ceremony. He was named Rising Star Chef of the Year, while every single one of the other most coveted awards — eight in all — went to New Yorkers.
Consider the list.
Outstanding Restaurateur: Drew Nieporent, Myriad Restaurant Group, New York City.
Outstanding Chef: Dan Barber, Blue Hill, New York City.
Outstanding Restaurant: Jean Georges, Jean-Georges Vongerichten/Phil Suarez, New York City.
Best New Restaurant: David Chang/Peter Serpico, Momofuku Ko, New York City
Outstanding Pastry Chef: Gina DePalma, Babbo, New York City.
Outstanding Wine Service: Aldo Sohm, Le Bernardin, New York City.
Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional: Dale DeGroff, New York City.
Outstanding Service Award: Daniel Boulud, Daniel, New York City.
A breakthrough of sorts came in the Outstanding Restaurant Design category, which honored chef/owner Paul Kahan's The Publican in Chicago. However, the designer, Thomas Schlesser, is headquartered in, you guessed it, New York.
In contrast, the regional Best Chefs in America aspect of the competition embraced geographical diversity. Here the Beard voters honored 10 top toques from around the country — without naming anyone from such pivotal restaurant cities as Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta or Miami. The regions and their chef honorees were:
Great Lakes: Michael Symon, Lola, Cleveland.
Mid-Atlantic: Jose Garces, Amada, Philadelphia.
Midwest: Tim McKee, La Belle Vie, Minneapolis.
New York City: Gabriel Kreuther, The Modern.
Northeast: Rob Evans, Hugo's, Portland, ME.
Northwest: Maria Hines, Tilth, Seattle.
Southwest: Paul Bartolotta, Bartolottta Ristorante di Mare at Wynn Las Vegas.
South: John Currence, City Grocery, Oxford, MS.
Southeast: Mike Lata, Fig, Charleston, SC.
Pacific: Douglas Keane, Cyrus, Healdsburg, CA.
The Lifetime Achievement Award went to living legend Ella Brennan, matriarch of the Commander's Palace Family of Restaurants in New Orleans. Recipients of the America's Classic's designation — affordable gems with lengthy track records — included Arnold's Country Kitchen, Nashville; Breitbach's Country Dining, Sherill, IA; Mustache Bill's Diner, Barnegat Light, NJ; Totonno's, Brooklyn, NY; and and Yank Sing, San Francisco.