Yesterday the James Beard Foundation announced the finalists for the 2013 James Beard Awards, and among the nominees were this year's cookbook nominations. While some great books were left out — no love for Charles Phan's Vietnamese Home Cooking? — the usual suspects are all here. Bouchon Bakery, for example, Naomi Duguid's Burma, Nigel Slater's Ripe, and Canal House Cooks Every Day. It should be noted that none of these books were among the top ten bestselling books of 2012, although several of them ranked highly on Eater's Meta Listicle of Listicles at the end of the year.
Below, Eater's picks for the winners in each category; some picks are based on the books that have won in years past and some are probably more wishful thinking. Either way, if you disagree with any of the picks, let us know in the comments.
A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen by Hugh Acheson. Clarkson Potter.
· Fire in My Belly by Kevin Gillespie and David Joachim. Andrews McMeel Publishing. Eater Index: 0
· Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart. Gibbs Smith. Eater Index: 3
· Southern Comfort by Allison Vines-Rushing and Slade Rushing. Ten Speed Press. Eater Index: 0
Well, one thing's for sure: the JBF has a thing for Southern cooking. Missing are several great books about the varied cuisines of America, including Adam Robert's Secrets of the Best Chefs, Paul Virant and Kate Leahy's Preservation Kitchen (which, to be fair, could also be considered single subject) or Sam Sifton's Thanksgiving. No matter, Southern food it is. Gillespie's book and Southern Comfort are both fun books and good reads, but neither of them approach the breadth of knowledge in Dupree and Graubart's 600+ recipes.
Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart.
Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails, Recipes, & Formulas by Brad Thomas Parsons.
· How to Love Wine by Eric Asimov. William Morrow. Eater Index: NA, Wine books not ranked.
· Inventing Wine by Paul Lukacs. W.W. Norton & Company. Eater Index: NA
· Wine Grapes by Julia Harding, Jancis Robinson, and José Vouillamoz. Ecco. Eater Index: NA
After last year's nod to the cocktail community with a win for the impressive Bitters, this year the finalists are all wine books. And while wine memoirs and histories can be quite lovely, it's the massive undertaking of documenting the world's wine varieties that will take this category.
Wine Grapes Julia Harding, Jancis Robinson, and José Vouillamoz.
Ruhlman's Twenty by Michael Ruhlman.
· Canal House Cooks Every Day by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer. Andrews McMeel Publishing. Eater Index: 6
· Modernist Cuisine at Home by Nathan Myhrvold and Maxime Bilet. The Cooking Lab. Eater Index: 3
· What Katie Ate by Katie Quinn Davies. Viking Studio. Eater Index: 0
One of these things is not like the other: while the original Modernist Cuisine took the Beard for Cookbook of the Year in 2012, it's not likely we'll see a repeat win. It's just a touch too out there for this category. A better bet? The much beloved Canal House Cooks Every Day, which made tons of the year-end best cookbooks list.
Canal House Cooks Every Day by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer.
The Food of Morocco by Paula Wolfert.
· Burma by Naomi Duguid. Artisan. Eater Index: 4
· Gran Cocina Latina by Maricel E. Presilla. W.W. Norton & Company. Eater Index: 5
· Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi. Ten Speed Press. Eater Index: 13
This category is a tough one. In the past, the JBF has gone for books that provide deep, comprehensive information about a country/region/culture's cuisine. That might rule out the slightly more poppy Jerusalem, except for the fact that cookbook junkies everywhere adored it (it has the highest Eater Index number possible). On the other hand, the JBF has historically liked Naomi Duguid's books, and has awarded her previous works a couple Cookbooks of the Year. On the other other hand, Gran Cocina Latina is an almost daunting 912 pages surveying the entirety of Latin cuisine. It really could go to any of them.
Eater's Pick: Gran Cocina Latina by Maricel E. Presilla.
Reference and Scholarship
Turning the Tables: Restaurants and the Rise of the American Middle Class, 1880–1920 by Andrew P. Haley.
· 101 Classic Cookbooks by Marvin J. Taylor and Clark Wolf. Rizzoli New York. Eater Index: NA
· The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz. Chelsea Green Publishing. Eater Index: NA
· The Cookbook Library by Anne Willan with Mark Cherniavsky and Kyri Claflin. University of California Press. Eater Index: NA
When presented with two books about cookbooks and one about letting food go bad on purpose for fun, which one would you pick?
The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz.
Baking and Dessert
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer.
· Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel. Artisan. Eater Index: 6
· The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook by Tom Douglas and Shelley Lance. William Morrow. Eater Index: 0
· Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish. Ten Speed Press. Eater Index: 0
This seems like an obvious one — Bouchon Bakery is a front runner in a major, major way — but the JBF has gone niche in this category in the past. Don't be surprised if Flour Water Salt Yeast ends up taking the category. Still, to be on the safe side:
Eater's Pick: Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel.
Professional Point of View
Modernist Cuisine by Nathan Myhrvold with Chris Young and Maxime Bilet.
· Come In, We're Closed by Christine Carroll and Jody Eddy. Running Press. Eater Index: 0
· Fundamental Techniques of Classic Italian Cuisine by The International Culinary Center, Cesare Casella, and Stephanie Lyness. Abrams. Eater Index: 0
· Toqué! by Normand Laprise, les éditions du passage. Eater Index: 0
The ICC book is a great textbook, but perhaps a little dry, and Eater has only seen pages of Toqué! from Montreal chef Normand Laprise, so if you've gone through a copy of that one, do pipe up in the comments. If Come In, We're Closed wins this, can the trend of staff meal cookbooks be over, please?
Come In, We're Closed by Christine Carroll and Jody Eddy.
Focus on Health
Super Natural Every Day: Well-Loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen by Heidi Swanson.
· Cooking Light: The New Way to Cook Light by Scott Mowbray and Ann Taylor Pittman. Oxmoor House. Eater Index: 0
· The Sprouted Kitchen by Sara Forte. Ten Speed Press. Eater Index: 0
· True Food by Sam Fox and Andrew Weil with Michael Stebner. Little, Brown and Company. Eater Index: 2
This one will largely depend on which version of healthy — "light" or "clean" or "whole" — the JBF favors, but people sure do seem to like True Food.
True Food by Sam Fox and Andrew Weil with Michael Stebner.
All About Roasting by Molly Stevens.
· Afield by Jesse Griffiths. Welcome Books. Eater Index: 0
· Modern Sauces by Martha Holmberg. Chronicle Books. Eater Index: 0
· Ripe by Nigel Slater. Ten Speed Press. Eater Index: 0
Ripe will almost certainly get this one. Afield was good (although perhaps a bit scattered), but a meat book won last year. Besides, people love Nigel Slater.
Ripe by Nigel Slater.
Vegetable Focused and Vegetarian
· Foraged Flavor by Tama Matsuoka Wong with Eddy Leroux. Clarkson Potter. Eater Index: 0
· Herbivoracious by Michael Natkin. The Harvard Common Press. Eater Index: 0
· Roots by Diane Morgan. Chronicle Books. Eater Index: 3
Roots, by a landslide. Seriously, who knew turnips were so interesting?
Roots by Diane Morgan.
Writing and Literature
Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef
by Gabrielle Hamilton.
· The American Way of Eating by Tracie McMillan. Scribner. Eater Index: NA
· The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat by Thomas McNamee. Free Press. Eater Index: NA
· Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson. Random House. Eater Index: NA
Gabrielle Hamilton's book is a hard act to follow. The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat is probably going to get this one. Yes, Chef might have a shot, but it pales in comparison to Blood, Bones & Butter. Also, bonus points to The American Way of Eating for excellent cover design.
The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat by Thomas McNamee.
Notes from a Kitchen: A Journey Inside Culinary Obsession, photographs by Jeff Scott.
· Bouchon Bakery, photographs by Deborah Jones. Artisan.
· Toqué!, photographs by Dominique Malaterre, les éditions du passage.
· What Katie Ate, photographs by Katie Quinn Davies. Viking Studio.
Bouchon Bakery seems like the obvious choice here, but the JBF might take a chance on a less common style of photography and go with What Katie Ate's striking shots. Here's to surprises.
What Katie Ate, photographs by Katie Quinn Davies.