Food Book Fairs, Festivals and Events 2020 & 2021


Birdsall’s sentences have rhythm, too, and compress time and place so that a meal becomes a history, from oysters “hauled down from shoals above the terrifyingly wide mouth of the Columbia and fried in an abundance of butter” to dinner at night near Les Halles in the 1920s, then the meatpacking district of Paris, “where butchermen in bloody smocks demolished plates of tripe and calf’s brains, washing away thirst and the reek of carnage with entire bottles of cool, violet-scented Beaujolais.”

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Thanks for this post @zippo1. Knew there was a book coming out about JB, but this reminded me to download a digital copy. Looking forward to reading about his life.

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Date And Time

Tue, November 24, 2020

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM PST

online, free, register

Join us for a special lunchtime event with author John Birdsall for his new biography of James Beard, alongside Emmy-winning Ted Allen.

About this Event

In the first portrait of James Beard in twenty-five years, John Birdsall accomplishes what no prior telling of Beard’s life and work has done: He looks beyond the public image of the “Dean of American Cookery” to give voice to the gourmet’s complex, queer life and, in the process, illuminates the history of American food in the twentieth century. At a time when stuffy French restaurants and soulless Continental cuisine prevailed, Beard invented something strange and new: the notion of an American cuisine.

Informed by previously overlooked correspondence, years of archival research, and a close reading of everything Beard wrote, this majestic biography traces the emergence of personality in American food while reckoning with the outwardly gregarious Beard’s own need for love and connection, arguing that Beard turned an unapologetic pursuit of pleasure into a new model for food authors and experts.

John Birdsall is a two-time James Beard Award-winning author, a former food critic, and longtime restaurant cook. He is the coauthor of a cookbook, Hawker Fare, with James Syhabout. He lives in Tucson.

Emmy award winner Ted Allen is the host of the long-running Food Network series “Chopped” and “Chopped Junior,” which has received two James Beard Awards. He first came to television on Bravo network as a cast member of the original, Emmy-winning “Queer Eye,” and was a recurring judge on both Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” and Bravo’s “Top Chef” for several seasons. He’s written two cookbooks: “The Food You Want to Eat” and “In My Kitchen: 100 Recipes and Discoveries for Passionate Cooks,” both published by Clarkson-Potter. He was a contributing writer for Esquire from 1996 until 2003. Ted holds an M.A. in journalism from New York University, with an advanced certificate in the school’s Science and Environmental Reporting Program, and a B.A. in psychology from Purdue University. He lives in Brooklyn with his husband, Barry Rice.


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Date And Time

Tue, November 24, 2020

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM PST



In the decades that followed World War II, no public figure prosecuted the cause of introducing America to seasonality, freshness, and culinary pleasure with greater vigor than James Beard. Gay, bow-tied, effusive, charismatic, and possessed of a lavish appetite, Beard had the misfortune to live in an era at once bigoted, repressed, paranoid, abstemious, and uninterestingly dressed. Today he is best known for the awards dispensed by his eponymous foundation, which remain, 35 years after his death at the age of 81, the most prestigious in the American restaurant industry. But of the man himself, contemporary memory is fairly shallow: He exists mostly in outline, as the bald, long-dead bon vivant beaming out at America’s eaters from illustrations, portraits, and the obverse of the culinary medals that bear his name. Unlike his contemporary Julia Child, Beard did not benefit from a longstanding presence on TV screens, and he has not been portrayed in a feature film. The Beard name is a seal of culinary quality, but the story of his life remains enigmatic and somehow remote.

The best food books of 2020 that will get you thinking, not cooking


Top row: “Dirt” by Bill Buford (Alfred Knopf), “Rebel Chef” By Dominique Crenn (Penguin Random House) and “Caffeine” by Michael Pollan (Audible). Bottom row: “The Man Who Ate Too Much” by Jim Birdsall (W.W. Norton), “Everything Is Under Control” by Phyllis Grant (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) and “Franchise” by Marcia Chatelain (Liveright/W.W. Norton).

Washington Post – By
[Tim Carman]

Food reporter/columnist

Dec. 24, 2020 at 5:00 a.m. PST

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Just an FYI - downloaded a copy of The Man Who Ate Too Much, and am sorry I did. As many books of this type are, it is sorely in need of a good editor. If you are intrigued with the minutia of JB’s life however, you may enjoy it. While I like and admire the man, it’s simply a lot of detail to slog through.

The documentary “Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir” just debuted on PBS. There are some clips of food scenes from the movie version of her novel, “The Joy Luck Club.” The documentary is 100-minutes long, was directed by James Redford, the late son of actor Robert Redford. The entire video will be available only through May 17, 2021.

The link below connects to the 2-minute trailer. To watch the entire documentary, click on “Watch Full Episode.”

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just won 2021 Pulitzer Prize for History -

excerpt from NY Times review in 2020:

As Chatelain describes it, those early battles between McDonald’s and civil rights activists mainly revolved around who got served and who got hired. Later, activists began to petition for black ownership of franchises located in black neighborhoods, a demand that McDonald’s was initially slow to meet but eventually pursued out of shrewd self-interest. After the uprisings that followed Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in April 1968, when a number of white franchisees and employees fled their stores, the corporation set out on a nationwide search to do something it had never done before: enlist a black franchise owner.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold