The 2012 James Beard Foundation Awards, the biggest award night for the culinary industry, happened last night. And while many chefs, cookbook authors and restaurateurs took away great (and well-deserved!) honors, Cuban-born Maricel Presilla, one of our favorite Latin American chefs, was awarded the regional chef award for the Mid-Atlantic region. Her restaurant, Cucharamama in Hoboken, New Jersey, is in a word: amazing. And while we fully encourage you to hop on a plane and go (no, really), you can also check out her numerous cookbooks for the experience at home.
This award comes as no surprise, as even President Obama recognized her culinary talent, when in 2009 he had Presilla cook for his “Fiesta Latina” White House celebration. (Apparently, he likes to throw a good party.) The chef, who is also a culinary historian specializing in the foods of Latin America and Spain, places emphasis on Latin American agriculture, like cacao. (Mmm, chocolate!).
Here’s the complete list of the James Beard Foundation’s awards, courtesy of The Associated Press. (Start booking those reservations now!):
National Chef Awards:
Best new restaurant
Next in Chicago
Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park in New York
Outstanding pastry chef
Mindy Segal of Mindy's Hot Chocolate in Chicago
Boulevard in San Francisco
Tom Douglas of Tom Douglas Restaurants in Seattle
La Grenouille in New York
Outstanding wine and spirits professional
Paul Grieco of Terroir in New York
Outstanding wine program
No. 9 Park in Boston
Outstanding bar program
PDT in New York
Rising star chef of the year
Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar in New York
Regional Chef Awards:
Bruce Sherman of North Pond in Chicago
Maricel Presilla of Cucharamama in Hoboken, N.J.
Tory Miller of L'Etoile in Madison, Wisc.
New York City
Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern in New York
Tim Cushman of O Ya in Boston
Matt Dillon of Sitka & Spruce in Seattle
Matt Molina of Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles
Chris Hastings of Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Ala.
Hugh Acheson of Five and Ten in Athens, Ga.
Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta
Paul Qui of Uchiko in Austin, Texas
James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award
James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year
James Beard Foundation Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America Inductees
Grant Achatz, chef and author, Chicago
Mark Bittman, journalist and author, New York
Dana Cowin, editor-in-chief at Food and Wine magazine, New York
Emily Luchetti, pastry chef and author, San Francisco
Marvin Shanken, publisher, New York
James Beard Foundation America's Classics
The Fry Bread House in Phoenix
Owner: Cecelia Miller
Nora's Fish Creek Inn in Wilson, Wyo.
Owners: Nora Tygum, Trace Tygum and Kathryn Tygum Taylor
St. Elmo Steak House in Indianapolis
Owners: Stephen Huse and Craig Huse
Jones Bar-B-Q Diner in Marianna, Ark.
Owners: James and Betty Jones
Shady Glen in Manchester, Conn.
Owners: William and Annette Hoch