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JBF's Lifetime Achievement Award Goes to Kevin Zraly

The James Beard Foundation announced today the winners of its annual Lifetime Achievement Award: renowned sommelier, wine educator, and author Kevin Zraly.

Zraly entered the wine business in the mid 1970s as cellar master and, eventually became the wine director of Windows on the World, which was the country's highest grossing restaurant until its tragic last day on September 11, 2001. During his time at Windows, Zraly established the Windows on the World Wine School, which continues to educate young sommeliers and wine enthusiasts to this day.

Zraly joines other Lifetime Achievement Award winners including Judith Jones (2006), Jacques Pépin (2005), Alice Waters (2004), Ernest Gallo (2001), Marcella Hazan (2000), Robert Mondavi (1994), and Craig Claiborne (1992).

In addition, the winner of the JBF's Humanitarian of the Year Award went to FareStart, a "Seattle-based culinary job training and placement program for homeless and disadvantaged individuals."

They will be honored at this year's James Beard Foundation Awards on Monday, May 9, 2011 in New York City. Here's the press release:



New York, NY (March 17, 2011) – The James Beard Foundation announced today that Kevin Zraly, renowned wine educator, author of the best-selling Windows on the World Complete Wine Course book and former James Beard Award winner, has been named the recipient of the 2011 James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. Each year, this award is bestowed to those whose lifetime body of work has had a positive and long-lasting impact on the way we eat, cook, and/or think about food in America. In addition, FareStart, the Seattle-based culinary job training and placement program for homeless and disadvantaged individuals, has been named the 2011 James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year Award honoree. This award is given to an individual or organization whose work in the realm of food has improved the lives of others and benefited society at large. Both Kevin Zraly and FareStart will be honored at this year’s James Beard Foundation Awards, the nation’s most prestigious recognition program honoring professionals in the food and beverage industries, taking place on Monday, May 9, 2011 at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York City.

“Both the Lifetime Achievement and Humanitarian awards recognize passion, inspiration, and a commitment to doing good work that go beyond any individual’s contribution,” said Susan Ungaro, President of the James Beard Foundation. “Kevin and FareStart are perfect examples of the core values that underlie the James Beard Foundation in action,” she concluded. “One of the country’s foremost wine educators, Kevin has been instrumental in launching the careers of some of the country’s most esteemed wine professionals working today,” Ungaro explained. “His wit, passion for wine education and ability to make the often-complicated world of wines accessible to others is unequaled. Similarly, FareStart’s dedicated mission and tireless efforts have created a national platform that provides much-needed opportunities for so many people and raises awareness about the plight of homelessness.”

“To be recognized as this year’s James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award winner is such a tremendous honor,” said Kevin Zraly. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with, educate and befriend so many talented people over the past four decades, and even had the pleasure of enjoying a glass of wine or two with James Beard himself on several occasions. To me, this award represents the past, present and future of the wine industry, and I am accepting this honor on behalf of my colleagues and mentors who paved the way and helped get me to where I am today and also toast the next generation of sommeliers, wine writers and educators and wine enthusiasts to come.”

"The James Beard Humanitarian award is a fantastic honor that we at FareStart are humbled to receive. It has always been our mission to empower homeless and disadvantaged individuals while creating nourishing and excellent food. To be recognized by the food industry is not only exciting, it's a confirmation of something we’ve known all along – the power of community," said FareStart Executive Director, Megan Karch. “For nearly 20 years, FareStart has provided opportunities for more than 5,000 people to transform their lives through culinary job training and placement. By awarding us with this prestigious distinction, it is clear that the James Beard Foundation understands the transformative and community-building power of food.”

On Monday, March 21, 2011, the Foundation will announce the final nominees for all award categories during a press conference at the Oregon Culinary Institute in Portland, OR, followed by an invitation-only seated luncheon. Nominations will also be announced live via the Foundation’s Twitter page at On Friday, May 6, 2011, the James Beard Foundation Book, Broadcast & Journalism Awards Dinner, an exclusive event honoring the nation’s top cookbook authors, culinary broadcast producers and hosts, and food journalists, will take place at Espace in New York City. The evening will be hosted by Ted Allen and Gail Simmons. On Monday, May 9, 2011, Tom Colicchio, Ming Tsai and Traci Des Jardins will host the James Beard Foundation Awards Ceremony and Gala Reception at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York City. During the event, which is open to the public, awards for the Restaurant and Chef and Restaurant Design and Graphics categories will be handed out, along with special achievement awards including Humanitarian of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, Who’s Who and the America’s Classics award honorees. During the Gala Reception immediately following, top culinary talents from across the country will serve dishes that reflect the nation’s diverse and multi-cultural influences in a nod to this year’s awards theme, “The Ultimate Melting Pot.” Tickets to the May 9th Awards Ceremony and Gala Reception will go on sale on Monday, March 21st and can be purchased at or through the Awards Box Office at 212.925.0054.

The 2011 James Beard Foundation Awards are presented with support by the following partners: In Association Sponsors: All- Clad Metalcrafters, Groupon; Premier Sponsors: Green & Black’s® Organic Chocolate, Lenox Tableware and Gifts, Mercedes- Benz; Supporting Sponsors: The Coca-Cola Company, Delta Air Lines, Lavazza, Southern Wine & Spirits of New York, Stella Artois; Gala Reception Sponsors: Acqua Panna® Natural Spring Water, Certified Angus Beef® Brand, Ecolab, Pernod Ricard USA, Rums of Puerto Rico, S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water; and with additional support from Chefwear and St. Giles Hotel.

About Kevin Zraly:
Kevin Zraly’s passion for wine and his uncanny ability to translate the world of wine into a fun and approachable subject have led him to become one of the world’s leading wine educators and best-selling wine authors. He began his career as a waiter and bartender at John Novi’s Depuy Canal House restaurant, and later journeyed to vineyards both here and abroad. After moving to New York City and a chance meeting Chef Barbara Kafka and legendary restaurateur Joe Baum in 1976, Kevin became cellar master and eventually wine director for the renowned Windows on the World restaurant atop the World Trade Center. By 2000, Windows was the country’s top-grossing restaurant, and with Kevin at the reins of its renowned wine program from the day it opened to its final tragic day, September 11, 2001, it had sold more wine than any restaurant in the country.

It was also at Windows that Kevin established his Windows on the World Wine School, which is still going strong today. There, Kevin, a born communicator with quick wit, high energy and an engaging style, demystifies wine for his students, stripping away intimidation and pretension and making it accessible to all. Now in its 35th year, this perpetually sold out course is held at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square and has won the praises of wine experts around the world. To date, more than 20,000 people have graduated from the Windows on the World Wine School, from wine novices and aficionados to top chefs and culinary professionals. In 1985, Kevin decided to translate his classes onto the pages of a book, distilling his years of wine travel and knowledge into Windows on the World Complete Wine Course. Like his classes, the book offered an unprecedented depth of information presented in an easy-to-understand style, taking readers on a worldwide journey from grape to glass. It became a runaway success that has since been lauded by some of the world’s most respected wine writers. Every year, Kevin updates the book with additional wine recommendations and lessons, and in 2009, he celebrated its 25th anniversary edition. With a 2012 edition soon on its way, Windows on the World Complete Wine Course has become the #1 best-selling wine book in the world, with more than three million copies sold to date. In Kevin’s hands, learning about wine is (almost) as fun as it is to drink.

Kevin has been the recipient of many prestigious awards and accolades, including the 2006 Wine Literary Award, the European Wine Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the 1993 James Beard Foundation Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional Award, the Food and Beverage Association’s Man of the Year Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Wine Educators. Kevin is a member of Culinary Institute of America’s Board of Trustees, author of Kevin Zraly’s American Wine Guide (the only book that covers wine in all 50 U.S. states) and the newly-released The Ultimate Wine Companion: The Complete Guide to Understanding Wine by the World’s Foremost Wine Authorities, moderator of the Sherry-Lehmann/Kevin Zraly Master Wine Classes and Wine Club in New York City, and co-creator (with Robert Parker) of the Parker & Zraly Wine Certification Program on

About FareStart:
FareStart provides a community that transforms lives by empowering homeless and disadvantaged men, women, and families to achieve self-sufficiency through life skills, job training and employment in the food service industry. The company was founded by David Lee, a chef and entrepreneur, who in 1988 recognized the need to provide Seattle’s disadvantaged and homeless populations with healthy and nutritious food. David first launched a for-profit business called Common Meals, and in 1992, after years of working out of small church kitchens, found a kitchen large enough to meet his needs and the needs of the growing homeless population. There, he began to train the very people he was serving, providing homeless individuals with the opportunity to work and to contribute to their own community and FareStart was born.

FareStart, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit company, has established a variety of training programs that provide invaluable lessons and educational resources to the local population. The Adult Culinary Job Training and Placement Program provides a free 16-week course that includes culinary training, counseling, life-skills classes, housing, food and clothing. Students have the opportunity to give back, beginning their first day by preparing food that’s delivered to local homeless shelters and low-income daycare centers. FareStart’s Graduate Support Services program provides ongoing guidance to adult graduates, including health care assistance, housing, counseling and job searches to help individuals move forward to self-sufficiency. Through a collaborative effort with YouthCare, a Seattle organization dedicated to ending youth homelessness, FareStart launched its Youth Barista Training and Education Program in 2003, offering runaway, homeless and street youth ages 16-23 with on-the-job training, life skills classes, counseling and the opportunity to build a better future for themselves. On a national scale, FareStart established Catalyst Kitchens in 2010, working with a network of 125 nonprofit companies and partner organizations across the nation to help develop their programming, finding solutions to unemployment and food scarcity. In addition, FareStart’s own businesses have helped to generate over half of the organization’s annual operating revenue. Some of these ventures include Guest Chef Night, during which premier local chefs work with FareStart students to create a gourmet meal at FareStart’s on-site restaurant, with revenue and gratuities directly benefitting the training program. The FareStart Café @ 2100 is the on-the-job training site for the youth program and is open to the public, while FareStart Catering offers services for a variety of occasions and FareStart Contract Meals provides 2,080 meals daily to childcare centers, homeless shelters and seniors.

Over the past 19 years, FareStart has provided opportunities for nearly 5,000 people to transform their lives, while also serving over 4.5 million meals to disadvantaged men, women, and children. In 2010 alone, FareStart provided training opportunities to over 260 people, provided referral services to over 700 homeless individuals, graduated more than 130 individuals and at the same time increased business sales by 10%. More importantly, FareStart’s graduates are getting hired and continuing their education, and last year, over 80% of adult graduates secured employment while 80% of youth graduates either gained employment or went back to school. 2011 sees FareStart launching several initiatives to further raise awareness and meet the growing needs of the community, continuing to create countless opportunities and impact thousands of lives for the better.

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