Two locals took home honors from the James Beard Foundation Awards (www.jamesbeard.org), held May 8 in New York, and the entire restaurant community was honored by the organization for its response to Hurricane Katrina. "The restaurants of New Orleans" collectively won the foundation's Humanitarian of the Year award for what the group called "their heroic resilience, their generosity toward relief workers and the support of their community." John Besh of Restaurant August (301 Tchoupitoulas St., 299-9777; www.rest-august.com) won the foundation's Best Chef in the Southeast award and Times-Picayune food critic Brett Anderson won a journalism award. New Orleans was the theme for a reception immediately following the awards ceremony, with chef Susan Spicer of Bayona (430 Dauphine St., 525-4455; www.bayona.com) overseeing a menu of dishes from 20 New Orleans restaurants. Also during the event, the New Orleans-based Southern Food and Beverage Museum (www.southernfood.org) presented an exhibit of the impact of the hurricane on the city's restaurant industry. The exhibit will later be displayed locally at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.
When local grocer Charles Ciaccio won the bid last summer to replace the shuttered Whole Foods Market on Esplanade Avenue, a committee of neighbors asked him to make a store with the same kind of organic foods and health products the Austin-based company previously offered there. Katrina slowed Ciaccio's plans, but just after Jazz Fest he opened his Market on Esplanade (3135 Esplanade Ave., 872-0275), and its resemblance to the former Whole Foods is enough to cause double-takes from shoppers. The look and feel of the store is much the same, as are many of the products. The deli has been expanded and will offer a growing menu of prepared foods to go, and there is a beer and wine selection Ð convenient for patrons of the several BYOB restaurants nearby. The store also has a gelato counter with a dozen flavors by the cup or packed in freezer pints. The Market is open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Three Dozen for $35
The Berkeley-based wine importer Kermit Lynch has a reputation for ferreting out excellent French wines that remain little known in the U.S. Ric Hopper of Hopper's Wines & Spirits (170 Broadway, 581-7500; www.hopperswines.com) first brought Lynch's portfolio to New Orleans in 1987 and he's bringing some of his latest finds here again for a special tasting event on June 1, to be held at the downtown distributor Purveyor of Fine Wines (1040 Magazine St., 523-5230; www.winepurveyors.com). The event will feature tastings of at least three dozen French wines from Lynch's collection. The cost is $35. RSVP by calling Hopper's at 581-7500.