The 2009 StarChefs Innovator Awards were announced on the Congress Main Stage on Tuesday, September 22. These awards were given to three chefs and four products for their outstanding performance in the realm of American cuisine. It was a proud moment for all honorees and an opportunity to celebrate leaders and innovators in the culinary industry. And it was a rare instance of recognition within the industry, as all the awards were voted on by Congress attendees, except the Contribution to American Cuisine Award, which was voted on by the StarChefs.com Honoring Chefs, Producers and Manufacturers Who Are Instrumental in Moving the Industry Forward.
The 2009 StarChefs Innovator Awards were announced on the Congress Main Stage on Tuesday, September 22. These awards were given to three chefs and four products for their outstanding performance in the realm of American cuisine. It was a proud moment for all honorees and an opportunity to celebrate leaders and innovators in the culinary industry. And it was a rare instance of recognition within the industry, as all the awards were voted on by Congress attendees, except the Contribution to American Cuisine Award, which was voted on by the StarChefs.com Chefs Advisory Board. As a community of their peers, protégés and pundits, we honored chefs David Burke (Contribution to American Cuisine Award), Jacques Pepin (Mentoring Award), and Dan Barber (Community Award) for their outstanding contributions to the industry. And as a community of working chefs and industry professionals, we recognized the AccuTemp Accu-Steam™ Griddle, iSi’s Thermo Whip PLUS, and The New Zealand King Salmon Co Ltd's Regal Salmon Pastrami for their incomparable utility in the kitchen.
Chef David Burke
The Contribution to American Cuisine Award honors chefs whose culinary vision and accomplishments have changed the face of American cuisine for the better. Keeping in mind the diverse identity of American food, these chefs have cultivated new strengths and ideas and brought them to the forefront of the culinary world.
Chef David Burke began having a serious impact on the culinary world at an early age, garnering the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France Diplome d’Honneur award at 26 and going on to earn praise and accolades from all corners of the world. Chef Burke has championed the culinary identity of his native country for years, embracing the impressionability of American cuisine as its central strength rather than a weakness. Given its openness to the influences of immigrants, innovation, and modernization, American cuisine presents the chef with a wealth of possibilities, and Chef Burke has made a career of exploring and championing them.
Not only does Chef Burke embrace American cuisine, he propagates and celebrates it through a continually growing restaurant empire. From the early days of davidburke&donatella to the recent reopening of what is now the David Burke Townhouse and the additions of the upscale-casual Burke in the Box, David Burke Las Vegas, and Primehouse to the Burke restaurant family, Burke the restaurateur has had a broad impact on the development of American cuisine. And beyond the walls of his restaurants, fellow chefs and diners will encounter the chef’s bold approach to American cuisine in his acclaimed cookbooks, Cooking With David Burke and David Burke’s New American Classics.
Burke is also an avid researcher, developing new techniques, advising restaurant groups, and sitting on the board of the Researcher Chefs of America. Beginning with his famed cocktail lollipops from the Park Avenue Café to his recent development of flavor transfer sprays, Chef Burke continues to explore the rich possibilities of American cuisine. His lengthy and continually surprising career incorporates some of the major developments within our culinary heritage, and for that impact, and for what impact is still to come, we honor him now with the Contribution to American Cuisine Award.
Chef Jacques Pepin
The Mentor Award recognizes chefs who are instrumental in supporting young cooks in their quest for success. Through their commitment to hands-on education both within and outside of their kitchens, these chefs work to shape the next generation of culinary leaders.
The contributions of Chef Jacques Pepin no doubt predate the release of his step-by-step cookbook La Methode in 1976, although we can hardly quantify his innumerable contributions since then. Chef Pepin is a prolific culinary force, as much an instructor and author as chef and mentor. Many know him from his television appearances alone, which include “The Complete Pepin” which aired in 1997 on PBS and “Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home,” his Emmy-award winning cooking show with fellow (but reverse) French-American crossover, Julia Child. He continues his television work with “Jacques Pepin: Fast Food My Way” and its recent update, “Jacques Pepin: More Fast Food My Way”, both of which bring the chef’s accessible, delicious recipes to the culinary community.
Although he might easily rest on his television-garnered laurels, Chef Pepin is one of the most active cookbook authors in the industry. Indeed, it’s impossible to choose the most essential or exemplary of Chef Pepin’s many cookbooks, which include such classics as Jacques Pepin’s Table and Jacques Celebrates. Chef Pepin manages to present recipes that are refined but accessible without seeming to condescend to the reader. Diverse as they are, Chef Pepin’s cookbooks all demonstrate one thing, namely his ability to straddle the seemingly impassable gap between the sophistication of French technique and the rusticity of the home kitchen. And for this reason alone, they’ve proven an invaluable and highly influential resource in the refinement and maturation of modern American cuisine and so many chefs working in the industry.
Beyond the page or screen, Pepin is consistently active in the community of chefs. He is a leading force in New York’s French Culinary Institute, where he is the Dean of Special Programs. Despite his well-earned celebrity, Chef Pepin reaches out to the student community at FCI, even going so far as to dine with prospective students in the school’s restaurant L’Ecole as a means to incite and encourage their passions. He is truly a chef’s chef, hands-on and encouraging, and for his unfathomably huge footprint in the careers of so many of today’s best chefs, we recognize him now with our Mentor Award.
Chef Dan Barber
The Community Award honors chefs who are consistently active in their local communities, and to whom community involvement is an essential part of their professional mission. They are generous with their knowledge, resources, and time, making them role models to other chefs. And they reach out to fellow chefs whenever possible to strengthen the bonds of their culinary community and beyond.
Chef Dan Barber of the beloved Blue Hill restaurants is a trailblazer among chefs, forging a culinary path well beyond the bounds of the kitchen. In his work at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Chef Barber has not only created some of the most beautiful, refined farm-to-table food we’ve ever tasted, but he’s redefined the traditional symbiosis between farm and kitchen for the contemporary restaurant world. From relatively modest beginnings and simple but earnest aspirations, Barber’s career catapulted to chef-stardom, which he wears with incredible modesty. He began cooking for his friends and family at Blue Hill Farms in Massachusetts, eventually opening his Manhattan restaurant in 2000 with an unmitigated focus on locally-sourced, all natural product. Receiving near-instant acclaim, Blue Hill brought Barber to the national spotlight, where he has remained throughout the years to come as a symbol of the sustainable, farm-to-table restaurant movement.
With Blue Hill at Stone Barns, which he opened in 2004, Chef Barber brought his passion directly to the farm country of Pocantico Hills, New York. There he created not only an unparalleled dining experience, but an educational, tangible, and deliciously edible demonstration of the relationship between the land and cuisine. This has been the overriding message of Chef Barber’s career, a message that benefits the diner’s plate as profoundly as it benefits the cause of sustainability.
We honor Chef Barber because he has consistently proven himself not only a conscientious, careful chef and farmer, but a generous, community-oriented professional. Throughout his career, Barber has been an avid advocate of local, sustainable cuisine, bringing his message to the fore on such well respected national forums as Gourmet, Saveur, “The Martha Stewart Show,” The New Yorker, CBS Morning News, and Food and Wine Magazine. Time Magazine even named him one of the “100 Most Influential People” in 2009, no doubt because his work had joined him with such prominent organizations as Harvard Medical School’s Center for Health and the Global Environment and the Kellogg Foundation. Without such prominent advocates, the local and farm-to-table food movement would not have the place it does in today’s restaurant kitchens. And for engaging not only fellow chefs, but the diverse entirety of the American culinary community, from scientists to journalists to visitors to his farm, Chef Dan Barber deserves our praise and admiration.
TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION AWARDS
These awards recognize a company who offers a product that is innovative in its mission or design, and instrumental in helping chefs or culinary professionals succeed in their endeavors. Nominees are voted on by attendees of the International Chefs Congress, and awards are given in four categories: Heavy Equipment, Specialty Equipment/Smallwares, Food and Beverage, and Tabletop.
The Accu-Steam™ Griddle uses patented steam chamber technology to produce the worlds only griddle with plus or minus 5 degree surface temp variance and true instant recovery of temperature within 10 seconds. The Accu-Steam™ griddle not only boosts higher performance than any other griddle it also was the first energy star compliant griddle. Available only from AccuTemp Products, Inc.
Contact: John Pennington
iSi’s Thermo Whip PLUS is the first professional whipper combining the benefits of a hand-held whipper with thermal capabilities. It eliminates the need for refrigeration or a bain marie and it allows for the preparation of fresh hot or cold foams with unique textures and flavors.
Contact: Judiaann Woo
Salmon for the Regal Pastrami is cured in a dry brine of salt and sugar, then smoked at a low temperature in natural wood smoke and crusted with a traditional Pastrami pepper mix. The salmon is then sliced into thin translucent slices, which are ideal for delicate finger foods and canapés.
Contact: Mel Shirley