Last year’s winner Frank Ruta of Palena presented the 2008 Mid-Atlantic Chef of the Year Award to Eric Ziebold, CityZen. In an evening when glamour was added with the snagging of Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall to co-host the event with Bobby Flay, the night was still about the best of the food world in the spirit of James Beard.
Other local winners included Terry Theise as the Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional and Central Michel Richard for the Best New Restaurant.
On a night when Thomas Keller said he felt relaxed as he was not being considered for any awards (he’s won most of them) it is to be noted that two graduates of his French Laundry kitchen and 2005 Food and Wine Best New Chefs alums Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson and Eric Ziebold both won Regional Chef awards.
It was also nice to see Frank Ruta up on the stage after last year’s mixup when his name was dropped by accident from the announcement that he shared the Mid-Atlantic top chef award with R.J. Cooper of Vidalia. Eric gave him a generous acknowledgement and all is well again.