Several local restaurants and chefs have been nominated for James Beard Awards (www.jamesbeard.org), the most prestigious honors for culinary professionals. Galatoire's (209 Bourbon St., 525-2021; www.galatoires.com) was one of five restaurants from across the country nominated for the San Pellegrino Outstanding Restaurant Award, which honors a restaurant that 'serves as a national standard bearer of consistency of quality and excellence in food, atmosphere and service.' Nominated restaurants must have been in operation for at least 10 years. Galatoire's, which turns 100 this year, had no problem meeting that requirement. Emeril's (800 Tchoupitoulas St., 528-9393; www.emerils.com) and its wine director Matt Lirette were nominated for the Waterford Outstanding Wine Service Award. In the Best Chef: Southeast category, both John Besh of Restaurant August (301 Tchoupitoulas St., 299-9777; www.restaurantaugust.com) and Greg Sonnier of Gabrielle (3201 Esplanade Ave., 948-6233; www.gabriellerestaurant.com) are vying for bragging rights as the top chef in the region. The winners will be announced on May 2 at a ceremony in New York City.
After reading Eating New Orleans: From French Quarter Creole Dining to the Perfect Poboy (Countryman), a new guide to New Orleans cuisine, locals might be upset that Pableaux Johnson gave away the city's secrets. How many other guidebooks direct tourists to Cafe Reconcile, the Bywater's St. Roch Market and Willie Mae's Scotch House? Eating New Orleans contains not just reviews of more than 100 restaurants and bars, but also sketches of the city's ethnic populations, advice for navigating our streets and hints for tourists about how to hide the fact that they're from out of town. It's a crash course in the entire culture of the city. Even longtime residents will probably learn a thing or two. Johnson, a Louisiana native, writes for The New York Times, The Times-Picayune and Saveur magazine and has contributed to Gambit Weekly. At 5 p.m. Thursday, April 28, Johnson will sign books and share his knowledge of New Orleans cuisine at Beaucoup Books (3951 Magazine St., 895-2663; www.beaucoupbooks.com).
For the two weekends of Jazz Fest, the Fair Grounds will become the greatest restaurant in the city. The Incomplete, Year-By-Year, Selectively Quirky, Prime Facts Edition of the History of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (Prime) documents with photos and essays the 35-year history of the annual celebration of New Orleans music and food. Kevin McCaffrey, director of the documentary A Common Pot: Creole Cooking on Cane River, wrote the chapter on festival food. McCaffrey and co-author Jan Clifford will celebrate the release of the book at Beaucoup Books (3951 Magazine St., 895-2663; www.beaucoupbooks.com) at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 29.