Deemed "the Oscars of the food world" by Time magazine, the James Beard Foundation awards are the country's most coveted honor for chefs. In support of Gulf seafood, John Currence (2009 winner) is offering up sweet onion and fennel butter poached Gulf shrimp with maque choux corn pudding tart and spicy red pepper coulis. R.J. Cooper (2007 winner) will be presenting smoked pork with heirloom beans, rye organic gastrique and chestnut emulsion. Michael Schwartz (2010 winner) will be preparing slow smoked beef brisket with pumpkin seed pesto, pumpkin panade and aged goat cheese.
Since 1961, Heitz Wine Cellars has earned countless accolades for its dazzling wines utilizing french oak barrels stored in a gray stone cellar, originally built in 1898, to allow the flavors to evolve patiently. Located in St. Helena, Calif., the renowned Heitz Cellar will offer up two fine vintages to accompany the dishes prepared by John Currence and Michael Schwartz. R.J. Cooper's course will be paired with a 2008 Ken Wright Cellars Pinot Noir from their Savoya Vineyard located in Carlton, Ore. Ken Wright Cellars is an award-winning winery that prides itself in its robust wines, particularly the pinot noir, which epitomizes the clarity and depth of the vineyard. In its 26 years, the winery has received distinguished accolades including a five-star "Outstanding" rating from Wine Spectator, Oregon's Best Producers of Pinot Noir and the 2002 Pinot Passion award.
Designed by CMT's Off-Air Art Director Nora Gaffney, the Lucite award is designed to evoke the elegance of the evening with a simple black, white and crystal color palette. The shape, which references a spiral, twists upwards and represents the elevation of country music throughout the year while five grooves etched into the side symbolize the five artists of the year and their significant career achievements.