Today the James Beard Foundation announced the five recipients of its 2015 America’s Classics Award presented by Brand USA. The America’s Classics Award is given to restaurants that have timeless appeal and are beloved for quality food that reflects the character of their community. This year’s honorees will be celebrated at the 25th anniversary James Beard Foundation Awards presented by Lexus, taking place on Monday, May 4, 2015, at Lyric Opera of Chicago.
“In an ever-changing culinary landscape, our Foundation is proud to honor those whose restaurants have stood the test of time,” said Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation. “Our honorees, hailing from different cities around the country, have the unique ability to bring neighborhoods together as they celebrate the authentic and unique flavors of America’s food scene.”
The 2015 James Beard Foundation America’s Classics Awards presented by Brand USA are:
Archie’s Waeside (224 4th Avenue NE, Le Mars, IA, Owner: Robert Rand)
Set in what was once a roadhouse bar, Archie’s is a citadel of American beef cookery. Seated in a commodious booth, in a dining room accented with Christmas tchotchkes, regulars drink perfect Manhattans, snack on handmade onion rings and well-curated relish trays served alongside homemade salads, and eat porterhouses, dry-aged in-house for up to 60 days.
Archie Jackson, who escaped Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution, worked in the meat cutting business in Sioux City before heading to Los Angeles where he learned to cut and dry-age beef in packinghouses. He opened the Waeside in 1949. Valerie Rand, his daughter, grew the business in the 1960s and 1970s. Her youngest child, Robert Rand, is now the owner, presiding over a menu that features 12 cuts of dry-aged beef, sourced from farms in northwest Iowa and northeast Nebraska, a large selection of seafood including freshwater fish like walleye, and a deep cellar of Napa Valley red wines.
Beaumont Inn (638 Beaumont Inn Dr, Harrodsburg, KY, Owners: Elizabeth and Dixon Dedman, Helen and Chuck Dedman)
Founded by Glave Goddard and Annie Bell Goddard in 1917, the Beaumount, which opened for business in 1919, is still operated by their descendants. Set in a former women’s college built in 1845, the Beaumont main house is columned and formal. And the menu is deeply rooted in Kentucky. The Dedman family, now at the helm, serves Kentucky products with pride, including Weisenberger meal, Meacham hams, and bourbons from the best distillers in the state.
Recipes for dishes like corn pudding and fried chicken, handed down through five generations, form the core of the menu. As their forebears did, the Dedmans serve two-year-old country ham, which they bring to maturation in their own aging house. Little has changed since the days when the pioneering critic Duncan Hines was a regular. “Now write this down for the people in Kentucky,” he told a reporter back in 1949. “[Say] I’ll be happy to get home and eat two-year-old ham, cornbread, beaten biscuits, pound cake, yellow-leg fried chicken, and corn pudding. And you can say what I think is the best eating place in Kentucky: Beaumont Inn at Harrodsburg.”
Guelaguetza (3014 W. Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, Owners: The Lopez Family)
Guelaguetza, founded by Fernando Lopez in 1994, is the center of Oaxacan life in Los Angeles and the setting for countless, quinceañeras, weddings, and anniversaries. A big sprawling place in Koreatown, it features live music on a bandstand every night. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the restaurant draws both homesick Oaxacans and outlanders in search of honest Oaxacan foods.
Bricia Lopez, one of the four children of Fernando Lopez and Maria de Jesus, now runs the restaurant along with her brother, Fernando Lopez, Jr., and her sister Paulina Lopez. They have added a mezcal bar and often bring in top producers from Mexico for seminars. The real star remains the soulful Oaxacan food, including enfrijolados, tamales steamed in banana leaves with mole, bowls of goat stew, and big rounds of tlayudas, baked corn tortillas topped with semi-dried beef, Oaxacan cheese, and sometimes even grasshoppers.
Sally Bell’s Kitchen (708 West Grace Street, Richmond, VA, Owners: Martha Crowe Jones and Scott Jones)
Sarah Cabell Jones met Elizabeth Lee Milton at the Richmond Exchange for Woman’s Work. Founded in 1883, the Richmond Exchange sold handmade goods produced by women. Jones and Milton opened Sally Bell’s Kitchen (then called Sarah Lee Kitchen) in 1924. By 1985, Martha Crowe Jones, the third-generation family proprietor, had taken the reins. Each generation of Jones women has proved faithful stewards of this beacon of female entrepreneurship.
Sally Bell’s is a take-away operation. Step to the counter and order a chicken salad or egg salad sandwich, among other options. The counterwoman will hand over your prize in a white pasteboard box, tied with twine. Inside will be a paper cup of potato salad or macaroni salad, a deviled egg half wrapped in tissue, a cheese wafer crowned with a pecan, and a cupcake enrobed in glaze. All will taste like someone’s grandmother made them. Nine decades after it first opened, Sally Bell’s still excels at handmade goods, prepared by industrious women.
Sevilla Restaurant (62 Charles St, New York, NY, Owners: Jose Lloves and Bienvenido Alvarez)
The area around 14th street and Eighth Avenue was known as Little Spain as early as 1900. In addition to community resources like the Spanish Benevolent Society, the neighborhood was also home to a wealth of Spanish restaurants. Sevilla, which began life as an Irish pub in 1923, opened as a Spanish restaurant in 1941 under the direction of Luis Fernandez and Alfonso Uchupi. In 1967, the chef Jose Lloves bought it. Five years later, his brother Bienvenido Alvarez, joined as a partner.
At Sevilla, the walls are decorated with bull heads and oil paintings of busty doñas. The deep and discreet booths are lit by glowing lanterns. The cocktail list is a time capsule of stingers, grasshoppers, and brandy Alexanders. Waiters wearing burgundy vests and bow ties serve tableside from covered metal cazuelas. And regulars flock for shrimp with green sauce, mariscada with hot garlic sauce, veal chops, and pitchers of sangria.
This year’s winners will appear in a cookbook about the James Beard Foundation’s America’s Classics restaurants around the country, along with more than 80 other restaurants who have won this award since its inception in 1998. The book will be published by Rizzoli in spring 2016.
“As the destination marketing organization for the United States, Brand USA is proud to present the America’s Classics Award to these five distinguished restaurants, each of which exemplifies the varied and vibrant food available across the United States,” said Brand USA President and CEO Christopher L. Thompson. “By promoting exceptional offerings such as those created by these beloved eateries, we hope to inspire more travelers from around the world to visit and experience the USA, one dish at a time.”
On Tuesday, March 24, 2015, the Foundation will announce the final nominees for all award categories during a press breakfast at the James Beard House. Nominations will be announced live via the Foundation’s Twitter feed at twitter.com/beardfoundation.
On Friday, April 24, 2015, the James Beard Foundation Book, Broadcast, and 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 Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in New York City.
The James Beard Foundation Awards Ceremony and Gala Reception will take place at Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 4, 2015. During the event, which is open to the public, awards for the Restaurant and Chef and Restaurant Design categories will be handed out, along with special achievement awards including Humanitarian of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America, and America’s Classics. A gala reception will immediately follow, featuring top chefs and beverage professionals from across the country.
Established in 1990, the James Beard Awards recognize culinary professionals for excellence and achievement in their fields and further the Foundation’s mission to celebrate, nurture, and honor America’s diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire. Each award category has an individual committee made up of industry professionals who volunteer their time to oversee the policies, procedures, and selection of judges for their respective Awards program. All JBF Award winners receive a certificate and a medallion engraved with the James Beard Foundation Awards insignia. There are no cash prizes.
The 2015 James Beard Foundation Awards are presented by Lexus; in association with HMSHost, the Illinois Office of Tourism and Mariano’s; and the following partners: Premier Sponsors: All-Clad Metalcrafters, BACARDÍ® GRAN RESERVA, Lenox Tableware and Gifts, True Refrigeration®; Supporting Sponsors: Acqua Panna® Natural Spring Water, Brand USA, Breville, Goose Island Beer Company, Lavazza, S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water, Skuna Bay Salmon, Valrhona; Gala Reception Sponsors: Braveheart Black Angus Beef from Performance Food Group, Celebrity Cruises®, Ecolab, Groupon, Tanqueray No. TEN®, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts; with additional support from: Chefwear, VerTerra Dinnerware, and Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. The James Beard Foundation also gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Chicago Department of Aviation, Choose Chicago and the Illinois Restaurant Association.