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Local chef tapped for awards.

Byline: JIM BOYD The Register-Guard

STEPHANIE PEARL KIMMEL, chef-owner of Marche, Marche Cafe and Bamboo at the Fifth Street Public Market in Eugene, has been selected as one of four Oregon chefs who will design the courses and cook for the James Beard Foundation's 11th annual Journalism Awards Dinner in New York City. The evening's theme will be "Oregon Salutes James Beard."

The other chefs are from Portland. They are TV cooking teacher Caprial Pence of Caprial's Bistro; Vitaly Paley, chef-owner of Paley's Place Bistro & Bar; and Paul Lemieux, pastry chef for Lucere restaurant at the RiverPlace Hotel and owner of Paul Lemieux Chocolates.

The journalism awards will be presented at a May 2 ceremony to be held three days before the 13th annual James Beard Awards for cookbook authors, restaurants, chefs and restaurant and graphic designers.

The theme for the gala reception at the May 5 awards is "James Beard: dean of American cooking, celebrating 100 years."

Beard, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year, grew up in Oregon and later moved to New York, where he became a famous cookbook writer, cooking teacher and authority on food.

After Beard's death in 1985, Julia Child had the idea to preserve his house in New York City as a place of culinary fellowship.

The foundation that was formed celebrates the country's culinary artists, provides scholarships and educational opportunities, serves as a resource for the culinary industry, and offers members the opportunity to enjoy fine dining.

Melanie Young, the awards director for the James Beard Foundation, said that Kimmel was highly recommended as a chef who carries on the tradition of James Beard.

"We did some research and we talked to people in the know in Oregon and we asked the chefs all to do essays about the inspiration of James Beard," Young said.

"Obviously, one of the reasons we were interested in Stephanie is because Beard was all about celebrating regional ingredients and the bounty that could be found both in Oregon and outside, and Stephanie certainly represents that," Young said.

Young quoted from Kimmel's essay, in which Kimmel said her first restaurant, the Excelsior Cafe, was French in foundation when it opened in 1972 but quickly evolved into a restaurant "that really was about the fabulous ingredients available in Oregon. ... Treating these incredible, fresh local resources with reverence and simplicity became the focus of my career."

"James Beard's ideals were about simplicity and honoring and respecting local ingredients, so she really is a chef in the spirit of Beard," Young said. "And she is very true to her Oregon background. So that's one of the key reasons she was invited, among the many talented chefs in Oregon, to cook.

"And it is an honor, because she's one of four," Young said. "I can honestly say she will be cooking for some of the most opinionated palates in the country. I mean, the journalism awards is a seated dinner where some of the top, top restaurant critics are going to show up."

Kimmel is scheduled to do a fund-raising dinner at the James Beard House in New York City on July 16, so when she got the invitation letter from the James Beard Foundation, she at first assumed the letter was something to do with that event.

"I opened it not expecting anything, and suddenly there was this invitation to work in front of 300 food and wine writers, which is a great chance to show what we do," she said.

The Oregon chefs don't know yet which courses they will be assigned for the awards dinner, Kimmel said. Young said the menu will be announced on March 13, along with the names of the finalists for the various awards.

Kimmel will be assisted in New York by her son-in-law, Rocky Maselli, Marche's chef de cuisine, and probably another member of the Marche staff.

The honor comes with a price. Kimmel will get her air fare and hotel paid.

However, the James Beard Foundation does not provide reimbursement for the food. Each chef is expected to line up donations from food suppliers who are proud to have their products showcased at the event.


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Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Geographic Code:1U9OR
Date:Jan 15, 2003
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