Asheville author Ronni Lundy claimed one of the highest honors in the culinary world when she received the James Beard Foundation’s Book of the Year award on Tuesday, April 25, for her latest cookbook, Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes. She also took home the award for best cookbook in the American Cooking category.
Often described as the Oscars of the food world, the James Beard Foundation Awards honor the best in cuisine and food literature.
Victuals (pronounced “vittles”) spotlights the cuisine, people and foodways of Appalachia through 80 recipes and anecdotes that Lundy gathered during extensive travels through the region. Each chapter of the book examines a specific food, ingredient or tradition of the area — salt, apples, corn, sorghum and beans are all highlighted.
“There’s lately been a great interest everywhere in sustainable methods of food production,” Lundy told Xpress for a September 2016 story about the book’s launch at Early Girl Eatery. “But one thing that’s fairly unique about the Appalachian region is that so many people here have never stopped methods of small farming, seed saving, foraging, fermenting. This has been a continuous tradition and it enriches our larder in distinct ways.”
Lundy regularly collaborates with Asheville chefs such as The Market Place owner William Dissen and Rhubarb’s John Fleer to host dining and educational events locally. She is a native of Kentucky and a founding member of the Southern Foodways Alliance. She’s a finalist for a 2017 Southern Book Prize in the Cooking category.
Fleer is also among this year’s James Beard Foundation Awards finalists as is Philadelphia pastry chef Camille Cogswell, an Asheville native who began her culinary training at Asheville High School. The James Beard Awards Gala will be hosted by Jesse Tyler Ferguson (of the television show “Modern Family”) on Monday, May 1, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.