Cook Your Way Through the 2020 James Beard Nominees 

You may not be able to eat at all the nominated restaurants, but you can cook from their books

This post originally appeared on March 4, 2020, in Add to Cart — the weekly newsletter for people who love shopping (almost) as much as they love eating. Subscribe now.

If you’re the kind of person who follows restaurant industry awards, you might have seen last week’s announcement of the James Beard Awards restaurant and chef semifinalists. The long list is, well, long, with individuals (Outstanding Baker, Rising Star Chef of the Year) and institutions (Outstanding Wine Program, Best New Restaurant) that span the country (the Best Chef category is divided down into twelve regions) — meaning there is almost no way, no matter how much of a dining-out enthusiast you are, that you could experience most of these restaurants yourself.

Luckily, there are other ways. Margarita Manzke of Los Angeles institution République is an Outstanding Pastry Chef nominee, but you can try to mimic her prowess with the Baking at République cookbook. Same goes for the pizzas at Outstanding Restaurant nominee Pizzeria Bianco, a crown jewel of Phoenix’s dining scene and the inspiration for the Bianco cookbook. Or get to know Asheville’s Cúrate, the restaurant from Best Chef nominee Katie Button, through the Cúrate: Authentic Spanish Food from an American Kitchen book.

And there’s more than just books. Best Chef nominee Meherwan Irani, of Asheville’s Chai Pani, turned his and his family’s passion for spice blends into Spicewalla, a line of adorably packaged spices. And Mason Hereford is a Best Chef nominee who leads the beloved New Orleans sandwich shop Turkey and the Wolf, which also happens to have great merch, especially T-shirts.

Nothing can replace a transcendent restaurant meal, but for those trying to work their way through the Beards nominees, buying a few cookbooks is an easy way to start.

Things to buy

  • For those of us who don’t really do cute, but can handle a product with just a bit of humor, this leather toast bag is just the thing. (Warning: It’s not cheap.)
  • Be as cool as Eater’s editor-in-chief Amanda Kludt and enrobe your phone in this tropical fruit phone case.
  • Long eyed the iconic KitchenAid but still don’t own one? A few colors of the five-quart KitchenAid stand mixer, typically in the $300 range, are currently on sale for $220.
  • Also on sale: a slew of wooden cutting boards from Crate and Barrel, at a variety of price points. As someone who recently replaced a bunch of crappy plastic cutting boards with wooden ones, I can’t recommend this upgrade enough.

Things to know

  • Cookware startup Made In — distinguished less by cute branding or inventive design than its chef and celebrity collaborations — is adding a santoku knife made entirely from recycled materials to its offerings. The waiting list (!) opened this week and it goes on sale on March 10.
  • I love this piece from Taste on how pepper mills — and tableside pepper grinding more specifically — became passé.
  • If you’re not watching Eater’s video series Handmade, start: The videos, which each spotlight a single food or cooking item that’s made by hand, are mesmerizing, including the most recent one on copper pots made by a former rocket scientist.
  • I’ve never tried Georgia Peach & Vidalia Onion Hot Sauce, but I do agree with the sentiment from Hilary Cadigan at Bon Appetit that “every desk needs a sauce.” (Mine is technically a vinegar, an apple cider one from Pineapple Collaborative.)
  • Prepare to feel dragged by this spot-on piece about the Millennial aesthetic.

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