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Queens-Born Jessica B. Harris Receives James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award

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Plus, a friendly reminder that racism has no place in a public health crisis — and more intel

Jessica B. Harris sits with her arm draped over a stack of books.
Jessica B. Harris
Rog Walker/James Beard Foundation [Official]

James Beard names its lifetime achievement award winner

The James Beard Foundation announced the recipient of one of its most prestigious titles this week, awarding the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award to Jessica B. Harris, who was born in Queens and taught at Queens/CUNY for close to 50 years. As a professor, an editor, a historian, and an author, Harris’s work centers on the foodways of the African diaspora. She’s just the second African-American woman to receive the honor, following in the footsteps of the late, legendary New Orleans chef Leah Chase, who received the award in 2016.

Among her many contributions to the food industry, Harris has written extensively about the ways in which the African diaspora has influenced cooking in the United States, with books like Sky Juice and Flying Fish: Traditional Caribbean Cooking, High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from African to America, and Iron Pots and Wooden Spoons: Africa’s Gifts to New World Cooking. More recently, her work has touched the Museum of Food and Drink’s New York exhibition, called African/American: Making the Nation’s Table, which highlights the black farmers, chefs, and restaurants who have shaped America’s national culinary identity.

“I am mindful that while my name is on [this award], it is also meant for those African Americans in the hospitality world in the past who labored unheralded, un-thanked, and for too many centuries unpaid or underpaid,” Harris shared in a statement through the foundation. “I hope that this extraordinary honor heralds the beginning of a new era when all Americans can sit down and fully participate at the nation’s table and none of us are strangers at the feast.”

A friendly reminder that racism has no place in a public health crisis

The chairman and CEO of a New York City franchise group made some truly regrettable — and misinformed — remarks about Manhattan’s Chinatown in an interview with Fox Business on Tuesday. Host Stuart Varney kicked off the segment by saying, “One thing that really upsets me is people walking away from Chinese restaurants across the country,” to which guest Zane Tankel responded, “Well, that’s understandable.” Tankel is the CEO of Apple-Metro, which owns ten Applebee’s franchises and two Pizza Studio restaurants in New York City.

In the one-minute conversation that ensued, Tankel made several othering comments about Chinese New Yorkers, saying that “the Chinese, candidly, have different sanitation habits than we do... the fact of the matter is if you look at the letter signs on doors through Chinatown, they are grade pending... Or they are Bs or they are Cs.”

In other news

— Tomorrow night, Middle Eastern grocer Sahadi’s will be making the most of its new expanded space in Industry City. The James Beard Award-winning grocery store will offer one-on-one food styling classes with cheeseboards and charcuterie. The $75 ticket includes a cheese slate, wine and beer from the bar, and snacks.

— Brooklyn Heights natural wine bar Pips will be hosting Orange Glou, a wine club and pop-up bar, for an evening of snacks and European wine tasting this month. Tickets for the March 30 event include a glass of orange, snacks from the Pips kitchen, and discounted wines by the glass.

Tribeca’s two Michelin-starred Korean restaurant Jungsik has welcomed a new chef to its all-female culinary team. Suyoung Park previously worked for four years as the sous chef at Jungsik in Seoul.

— There’s a new fancy donut in town and it’s only being sold in the lobby of the ChikaLicious Dessert Bar. The Japanese fresh cream donut, as its makers call it, is available Thursday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. for takeout.

— Earlier this month, we suspected that Jewish deli icon Fine & Schapiro might have closed its after 93 years on the UWS. Today our worst fears are confirmed.

— The West Village is home to a lovely new location of popular vegan Sichuan restaurant Spicy Moon.

— Food photographer Gary He tried it so you don’t have to:

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