In advance of tonight’s James Beard Awards ceremony in Chicago, event founder and longtime event director Melanie Young has revisited for Eater the details of how the awards grew under her watch, from telegrams to faxes and beyond. With, along the way, a request from the Academy of Motion Picture Art and Sciences to stop referring to the honors as “the culinary Oscars.”
There are also a couple of tasty sidebars, highlighting “Fun Facts” from the first two full decades of the JBA’s, which coincide with Young’s span of service (1990-2006). The last fun fact involves Young:
Toward the end of the 2006 ceremony, presenter Corby Kummer (The Atlantic) called me on stage. A handsome man in a white dinner jacket appeared at the podium and made a beautiful speech that ended with a marriage proposal. That man, David Ransom, and I were married in New Orleans at Commander’s Palace in 2007.
The New York Times 2007 wedding announcement definitely missed the boat by not referencing the podium proposal. Young since those years has beaten breast cancer and become a passionate advocate for healthier living.
Young and Ransom host a weekly Internet radio show called The Connected Table Live. Separately, she hosts another weekly online radio program called Fearless Fabulous You! Winners in the Journalism category at the 2015 JBA’s include GQ, The New Yorker, the Washington Post and Grub Street.