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New Yorkers win Beard Foundation awards

Two New Yorkers won prestigious 2005 James Beard Foundation Awards on Monday.

Joseph Bastianich, a partner in Italian Wine Merchants, a boutique specializing in high-end Italian wines, was named outstanding wine and spirits professional. The award is given to someone ‘who has made a significant national impact in the wine and spirits industry.’

Tim Kopec, wine director at Veritas, won the outstanding wine service award. It goes to ‘a restaurant that displays and encourages excellence in wine service through a well-presented wine list, knowledgeable staff and efforts to educate customers about wine.’

‘Scotch Whisky,’ by Charles MacLean (published by Cassell Illustrated) was named the year’s best book on wine and spirits.

Chef Thomas Keller’s Manhattan restaurant Per Se, which opened in 2004, was named best new restaurant.

Bastianich, who has also co-written a book on regional Italian wine and owns wine estates in Friuli and Tuscany, is best known for ownership of such Manhattan restaurants as Babbo, Esca, Otto Enoteca Pizzeria, Case Mono and Bistro du Vent.

The 15th awards gala took place amid awareness that the nonprofit Manhattan-based Foundation, which promotes the culinary arts, is undergoing administrative reorganization to distance itself from scandal. Its former president pleaded guilty in January to stealing more than US$50,000 from its coffers.

The Foundation took pains on Monday to point out that ‘awards recipients are selected by more than 600 food and beverage industry professionals who vote by confidential ballot’ and that an independent accounting firm tabulated the ballots.

One new trustee overseeing restructuring is Larry Stone, who many in the wine trade consider America’s top sommelier. He works at Rubicon, a San Francisco restaurant.

Written by Howard G Goldberg

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