New & NowBurnt Toast Podcast

How the James Beard Awards Really Work

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The James Beard Awards are something like the Oscars of food, with less gold leaf on the dinner and shorter speeches.

I've always wondered what exactly goes into them: What happens after we submit what we think are our best articles, videos, and books of the year? Who reviews them, and what are they looking for? How is the winner decided? Why on earth do they make journalists—who are used to working singularly, behind a computer—deliver acceptance speeches? Is it all a cruel joke?

So I didn't answer that last question, but I did set out to answer the first few. And, right after I started working on this episode, our humble little podcast won a nomination. A nomination! We may not have won the award last night, but we're still counting it a success. (To see the full winner's circle, head here.)

In today's episode, I trace a cookbook's path from submission to—fingers crossed—winning an award. Andrea Weigl, chair of the JBFA books subcommittee, and Matt Sartwell, JBFA judge, friend, and owner of the well-loved Kitchen Arts & Letters, are my guests.

To hear how it all works, play the episode above, find it on iTunes, or listen to it using your favorite podcatcher. (Don't have one yet? We're fans of Stitcher.)