Who is the Eater of the Year?
It’s that time again! Time to reminisce about the year that was and honor the people who kept our mouths open all year long.
For the second year, Endless Simmer is doing just that with our Eater of the Year awards. Some of our nominees are serious, some less so, but all of them made this year tastier than all the years that came before.
Of course, only you can decide who the ultimate Eater of the Year is, so please cast your vote below.
And the nominees are…
Last year you voted the irrepressible Anthony Bourdain as our inaugural Eater of the Year. This year, Bourdain was repressed. So many entities have tried to take the haughty T-Bo down a notch in his life — Rachael Ray, Food Network execs, cocaine — but all of them have failed. Finally, the “Bourdain-veganizing collective” Hezbollah Tofu put a dent in his armor. Responding to Tony’s infamous quote that “vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn,” Hezbollah Tofu embarked on an ambitious year-long crusade, cooking and blogging their way through Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook, without using an ounce of meat or dairy. While they didn’t convince us to put down the bacon just yet, HT amused and enticed us all year long with recipes like lentils tartare, seitan au poivre, and creme-less creme caramel. For taking the “bore” out of herbivore, Hezbollah Tofu is our vegan of the year.
If 2007 was the year Americans learned to be locavores, 2008 was when attacked the corporate agribusiness overlords with a vengeance. And the primary reason why every average joe and middle America housewife has turned against high-fructose corn syrup and factory farm chickens is this lovably dorky UC-Berkeley professor. Pollan burst into the mainstream with his 2006 opus The Ominvore’s Dillemma, and followed it up with this year’s equally engrossing In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. While Pollan has no doubt been overhyped and praised beyond belief, it certainly is amazing that in a country where people don’t have time to chop their own onions, millions of folks are reading 400-page manifestos about industrial corn production. Have we shaken the corporate food addiction? Absolutely not. But it is safe to say Pollan changed the conversation, and without him, we probably wouldn’t have successes like California’s Prop 2, and we certainly wouldn’t have a blogosphere on fire about prospective Secretary of Agriculture candidates.
Celebrity food endorsements have always been a pretty laughable deal. Does Alton Brown really drink Welch’s? I don’t think so. Does Rocco Dispirito cook pre-made pasta dinners at home? Yeah right, and those Olympic gymnasts chow down on McDonald’s burgers everyday. But there was one celeb endorser who had us in stitches this year. Playboy playmate and Hugh Hefner girlfriend #3 Kendra Wilkinson took her strange, fetishistic obsession with the Olive Garden to new heights when she asked Olive Garden waitresses to get naked for her. Never before have company PR folks stumbled over themselves so quickly to say “no comment” about an unsought endorsement. Does Kendra fully realize how ingenious an idea “the girls of the Olive Garden” is? We’re not sure, but we’re gonna give her credit.
Speaking of ditsy blonds, you may have hated her for awhile, but in hindsight, you’ve just got to love Cindy McCain. Sure, Hillary Clinton famously said she wasn’t going to hang around the White House baking cookies all day, but when push came to shove, Hill toned down the feminism, stood by her man, and even put a chocolate chip cookie recipe on the White House website. But Cindy? She could not be bothered with crap like that. When McCain aides asked her to be a good wifey and post her family recipes on the campaign website, Cindy tossed her gin and tonic on the ground and said “eff that, just google some Rachael Ray crap and put my name on it.” Then, even after she got caught stealing recipes, Cindy did it again! When Family Circle asked her to enter the traditional First Ladies cookie bake-off, she submitted a family fav — which just happened to come from the back of a Hershey’s Bar. What balls this lady has! Sure, her angry hubby fell about 150 electoral votes short of the White House, but one thing is crystal clear: Cindy McCain is not your bitch.
When erstwhile body-wonderer John Mayer launched his food blog in 2007, we called him a douche, and John got a little upset about it. The truth is, we have to apologize. We thought JM was just another celebrity jumping on the food blog bandwagon, but it turns out he’s really committed to it. When he’s not busy making out with Perez Hilton, John has continued to update us on all his tasty adventures. If there’s one thing we need more of in this tough, poverty-stricken holiday season, it’s C-list celebrities live-blogging a frosted bundt cake. Did you know you can win an autographed signature series Fender Stratocaster guitar if you send JM your best cake recipe? Now this is a rock star we can get behind.
It’s a pretty sad fact that even dedicated foodies like us can rarely turn on the Food Network nowadays without wanting to gag. From cheating Sandra Lee to cutesy Giada to butter-soaked Paula Deen, it’s all so train-wreck awful. To be honest, it’s a little pathetic that we’re more excited for an upcoming movie about the original chef-lebrity, Julia Child, than anything today’s food TV can offer. So put down the remote and pick up a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, because the truth is, JC can still cook all these bitches under the table. Plus, she did it all while she was a mother-effing spy! Talk about badass. Imagine Rachael Ray concocting a flawless chocolate mousse while simultaneously stealing secrets from the Nazis. I don’t think so.
Previously on Endless Simmer:
2007 Eater of the Year Awards
Um, Julia Child should win by virtue of her Julia Child-ness alone.
Pollan looks like he may need a bit more fiber in his locavore diet…
I’m offended by the presence of Kendra Wilkinson on this list.
Oh Kendra. That has to be one of my favorite food stories of the year.
Oh, I’m with Belmontmedina. Julia Child all the way. 😀
a.k.a. The Hungry Mouse
I refuse to vote for any of these nominees. My vote goes to Joey Chestnut who defeated powerhouse eater and perennial champion Takeru Kobayashi at the Annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest held July 4, 2008. Now, THAT is an accomplishment worth noting.
Definitely Julia Child…what a pioneer!
I think I should be on this list and win because the Hezbollah Tofu website/project has ended, and by default I’m picking up the slack by having to fight off all of the rabid Anthony Bourdain fans that end up at my blog instead!
How did Eddie “Bozo” Miller (the Octogenarian competitive eater who died in January of 2008) not make this list! His gastronomical feats earned him a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records twice before he died at the ripe old age of 89! So much more of an eater than annoying kendra wilkinson.
Okay, that vegan LA blog looks decent. Maybe next year?
I originally thought H. Tofu was extremely clever and wity, but the lack of posts the increasing amount of foul language (the current post complaining about her life is entitled, “Well F***”). Seems she can’t write a sentence without a swear word in it. Keeps getting worse.
I’m not opposed to swearing, but enough’s enough. How about voting for someone who’s had international impact?
Michael Pollan’s books, interviews, essays (including one about a Secretary of Food and having a White House Organic Garden was noticed by Obama and some of his staff) have been instrumental in getting people to pay attention to what’s in their food, eating local, and more plants. His historical perspective is spot-on and he’s doing fantastic work.
Julia Child? She died years ago. Don’t thinks she’s been too active in 2008.
Pretty boy Mayer hasn’t really accomplished that much as a “foodie” but he’s a killer musician. Let him go for “best guitar player” instead.
Kendra’s a barbie doll and not a great role model for anyone.
Cindy McCain hasn’t been any fun since she kicked the barbs. ‘Sides, what has she accomplished in the foodie world? Being heiress to a beer-based fortune is cool, but I’m worried that if she smiles too widely her “surgically-enhanced face” will crack into pieces.
Julia should win! Every. Single. Year. 🙂
OMG people don’t STOP being important just because they DIE.
SHE WAS A FREAKING SPY. The Mata Hari of duck a l’orange!!! The Tokyo Rose of the tarte tatin!
I respect Michael Pollan and all, but seriously, people, we’re vying for legend status here.
Julia Child *should* win, but it looks like H. Tofu will. Don’t get me wrong, I kind of liked the idea behind H. Tofu in the beginning, even if the creator seemed a tad creepily obsessed with the chef she claims to disdain. But that obsession has only escalated into the absurd (no, really, I’m sorry Bourdain won’t sleep with you or killed your puppy or whatever it is he did to incite *that* kind of obsession…maybe you should seek therapy or get a new hobby. Just sayin’), and the blog hasn’t been interesting for a long time. Kind of sad. And I say all this as a strict vegan myself. I don’t know, the H. Tofu gang just became mightily butthurt and ridiculously defensive about Bourdain and things he’s said and, frankly, they came away looking like bigger fools than Bourdain himself ever has. Like Mark said above, just look at the latest post.
I will be disappointed if anyone other than Julia Child or Michael Pollan wins. No one else on the list is even relevant as far as I’m concerned.
I love Hezbollah Tofu! It brings a funny and very intelligent approach to one of the most pressing problems around food facing us today. How do you create delicious and wonderful food that is also cruelty free and environmentally friendly? HT encourages people to experiment and create these types of meals and share them with others.
Michael Pollan just reports on the problem that HT addresses. As far as the others, Julia Child is dead, Kendra deserves props for embarassing Olive Garden but can’t legitimately be considered an informed eater. And Cindy McCain hasn’t eaten anything since 1987.
If it took Hezbollah Tofu to rattle you out of culinary tastes circa 1960 (even the original Betty Crocker cookbook has steak tartare, Manhattan), you’re probably not an amazing chef in the first place. Poor Julia, she can’t even compete… because she died four years ago?
Michael Pollan is at least forward-thinking about it, admitting that steak tartare is delicious but, like glaciers and fresh water, of limited availability at great expense to very few people. Hard to overhype an actual ethicist with a job.