Michael and Ariane Batterberry, publishers of Food Arts and founders of Food & Wine magazine, have been named the recipients of the James Beard Foundation's Lifetime Achievement Award for 2010.
The award honors food-and-beverage professionals who have made a long-lasting impact on the industry in America, and with 18 books on food, art and social history, plus magazines, columns and work on numerous advisory boards between them, the couple has achieved a highly influential status in the culinary world. They recognized that food was both an art form and popular entertainment. At a time when few others were looking, they saw that chefs were taking steps toward quality and producing better dishes with better ingredients.
"It's a wonderful way to close a circle that started over 40 years ago when James Beard invited us into his charmed circle with everyone who constituted the food industry," said Michael Batterberry. "It's enormously gratifying. He never faltered in his support. To be a James Beard Award winner is profoundly meaningful."
Michael and Ariane made their first foray into the food industry with their 1973 book, On the Town in New York: The Landmark History of Eating, Drinking and Entertainments from the American Revolution to the Food Revolution. Five years later, they published the first issue of their groundbreaking magazine, Food & Wine, which offered consumers a look at the world of fine cuisine. They would later sell the magazine. In 1988, they launched Food Arts, an award-winning magazine for the restaurant and hotel trade (and a sister publication of Wine Spectator). Michael has also coordinated efforts to support sustainable agriculture and worked with such institutions as the French Culinary Institute, the Culinary Institute of America and New York University's Department of Food & Nutrition Studies.
"Michael and Ariane are certainly legends in the culinary publishing world," said Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation. "They are highly respected by their media colleagues but even more respected by chefs and restaurateurs. Thirty years ago they started a hallmark magazine that people still look to today. They are not just creative but also understand the business of what's needed for success."
Patrick O'Connell, chef and proprietor of the Inn at Little Washington, noted Michael and Ariane's knowledge of journalism as well as the culinary arts. He called them "relentless investigators" who continually go out to meet new people and taste new things. "They come from an era when great journalists were educators, and they continue that tradition, helping the next generation," said O'Connell. "There is nowhere they haven't been, no one that they don’t know, and almost nothing they haven't tasted."
José Andrés, executive chef of ThinkFoodGroup in Washington, D.C., and host of PBS's Made in Spain, first met the Batterberrys when he arrived as an immigrant from Spain. He considers them family—"someone to call for advice."
"Michael listens unbelievably well," said Andrés. "He gives you the feeling he's really listening to what you're saying, whether you're talking about restaurants [or] politics, and always has something wise to say. He would even listen to me when I had a strong accent. I don’t think he understood a word I was saying! But he sat there with a big smile on his face. When both of them smile at the same time, it is very contagious, very powerful."
"They have always worked to make our profession, hospitality, more respected," said Andrés. "I think the pride in our profession has increased greatly and a big part of that is because of their work."
The award will be presented to the Batterberrys on May 3 at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall in New York.