Albert Einstein wrote, in May 1946, that “the unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking.” The pandemic has changed everything save our modes of thinking.
A new normal will emerge after initial dislocation. The future will be bright and beautiful. Those adapting will prosper prodigiously.
Considering the capital city‘s culinary culture: Friends visiting Jackson from afar are favorably impressed with local cuisine. Jackson has great chefs, great recipes, and great restaurants. The potential is infinite.
Mississippi restaurants are absent from the 2020 James Beard Award nominees. The Magnolia State should be among the contenders, consistently, just as Mississippi musicians and writers are decorated disproportionate to their numbers.
Looking at the James Beard Awards to be awarded to restauranteurs on Wednesday, May 27:
Spoonbill Watering Hole and Restaurant, in Lafayette, Louisiana, and Citrus Club, in Charleston, South Carolina, are among the three contenders in two separate of three categories for Outstanding Restaurant Design.
Automatic Seafood & Oysters, in Birmingham, and Gianna, in New Orleans, are among 10 contenders for Best New Restaurant.
Graison Gill, of Bellegarde Bakery, in New Orleans, is among five contenders for Outstanding Baker.
Anvil Bat & Refuge, in Houston, and Kimball House, in Decatur, Georgia, are among five contenders for Outstanding Bar Program.
Donald Link, of Herbsaint, in New Orleans, is among six contenders for Outstanding Chef.
Brigtsen’s, in New Orleans, is among five contenders for Outstanding Hospitality.
FIG, in Charleston, is among five contenders for Outstanding Restaurant.
JoAnn Clevenger, of Upperline, in New Orleans, is among five contenders for Outstanding Restauranteur.
Bacchanal, in New Orleans, is among five contenders for Outstanding Wine Program.
Scott Blackwell and Ann Marshall, of High Wire Distilling Company, in Charleston, and Drew Kulsveen, of Willett Distillery, in Bardstown, Kentucky, are among five contenders for Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Producer.
Will Aghajanian and Liz Johnson, of The Catbird Seat, in Nashville, and Ashleigh Shanti, of Benne on Eagle, in Asheville, are among five contenders for Rising Star Chef of the Year.
Jose Enrique, of Jose Enrique, in San Juan, Kristen Essig and Michael Stoltzfus, of Coquette, in New Orleans, Michael Gulotta, of Maypop, in New Orleans, Mason Hereford, of Turkey and the Wolf, in New Orleans, and Isaac Toup, of Toups’ Meatery, in New Orleans, are the five contenders for Best Chef: South — which includes Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Puerto Rico. (Best Chef: Southeast covers Georgia, Kentucky North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Virginia is in Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic. Best Chef: Texas is its own category).
Lassis Inn, in Little Rock, and Vera’s Backyard Bar-B-Que, in Brownsville, Texas, are among six America’s Classics Honorees.
The post-pandemic landscape offers opportunities for reinvention. As Jackson emerges from what was and embraces what will be, its culinary talent should take the steps essential to overrepresention at the apex of American culinary culture.
Having discerning diners and remarkable restauranteurs, the capital city can become a destination for gourmands across the globe within 10 years.
Jay Wiener is a Northsider.