The James Beard Foundation Awards: Plaudits and Delicious Desserts

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Medallions and macarons shared the spotlight this spring at the JBF annual awards – the media presentations held in New York City, the restaurants and chefs in Chicago.

At Manhattan’s Chelsea Piers on April 26tth, Suqar: Desserts and Sweets from the Modern Middle East by Greg Malouf and Lucy Malouf, won for best Baking and Desserts book, while the medal for Online Video went to Dominique Ansel Teaches French Pastry Fundamentals (Master Class).

At the lavish dessert reception following dinner, three top toques from Philadelphia joined local star Rory Macdonald of Chanson for the grand finale. Kate Jacoby of Vedge created a pink peppercorn pavlova with coconut lemon curd, apricot and basil. Robert Toland, Terrain Café, presented a Valrhona chocolate terrarium with milk chocolate Namelaka, dark chocolate cake, matcha crunch, dark chocolate mousse, micro-sunflower greens and candied yuzu, while Essen bakery’s Tova du Plessis expanded the reach of black and white cookies with other flavors. Macdonald’s Earl Grey and blood orange mousse with hazelnut dacquoise was topped with Valrhona Jivaro 40%.

In Chicago on May 6th, Kelly Fields of Willa Jean, New Orleans, was named Outstanding Pastry Chef, and Greg Wade, Publican Quality Bread, Chicago, Outstanding Baker.

The reception featured desserts that included milk tea macarons, with coffee, Valrhona chocolate, and hazelnut cakes from Belinda Leong and Michel Suas, B. Patisserie, San Francisco, and “Marvelous Macarons” with Valrhona strawberry inspiration macarons, Ashley Torto, Margeaux Brasserie, Chicago.

Strawberry was also the theme for Valrhona’s Sarah Tibbetts: a Bonne Tarte, Valrhona strawberry inspiration creme with almond biscuit and berry-lemon confit. Boston’s Karen Akunowicz, Fox & The Knife, contributed rosemary semolina cake with whipped ricotta and black truffles, and Camille Cogswell, K’Far, Philadelphia’s rugelach were made with Valrhona 70 % Tropilia. Fabio Viviani of Mercato, Chicago, completed the dessert roster with Lavazza Tierra Colombia tiramisu with roasted white chocolate, espresso meringue and marble biscotti.