Best Timely Recognition That Could Have Been Better: Spike Gjerde winning the James Beard Award

At long last, a chef from Baltimore took home the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic, one of the 10 regional awards distributed since 1991 by the prestigious James Beard Foundation. Somehow, no Baltimore-based chef had ever taken home one of the awards, which had variously been picked up by chefs working in Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia. The annual ceremony was held on May 5, just two days after a 10 p.m. curfew had been lifted in Baltimore. The curfew, imposed in the response to unrest associated with the death of Freddie Gray, hurt the restaurant industry hard, and morale was bad. Gjerde’s win was warmly received by the gala audience, and the Woodberry Kitchen founder was gracious in his remarks, which included a shout-out to an ailing city. And still, as happy as we were for Gjerde, we couldn’t help but think it would have been even lovelier if Baltimore’s first James Beard winner had been Cindy Wolf, whose culinary standards have inspired a generation of young Baltimore chefs.

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