Next week, y'all, the Kentucky Bourbon Affair returns!

New York Post writer calls James Beard Awards “Brainless”: Yeah, those are harsh words for what are routinely called the “Oscars of the restaurant world.” Are the Beard Awards arguably misguided? Yes. Brainless? Probably not.

Following the May 3 Beard Awards ceremony, Post writer Steve Cuozzo wrote a scathing critique of some of the James Beard Foundation’s choices for winners. He called the whole show the Golden Globes of its ilk and said it’s “all hype, ballot box-stuffing and craven favor-mongering.”

That part is hard to disagree with. Too often Beard Award finalists—especially multi-time finalists—and regular observers of the annual affair leave scratching their heads when the shiny medallions are handed out.

For me, the questions start with the nominations: Way too many great restaurants never get in the running at all because they’ve not generated sufficient press in respected consumer, food and restaurant publications or because they don’t have a publicist to champion their cause. Or members of the press charged with nominating play favorites.

I can’t think of a single Beard Award winner I’ve seen in the past who isn’t deserving of the honor, but it’s not hard to see that most of them got that honor based as much on who they know as how good their restaurants are. But such is life, right?

Patio is open at Mussel & Burger Bar downtown. Of the many forehead slappers tied to the misguided operation of the now-defunct St. Charles Exchange, here’s a big one: Its

The patio at Mussel & Burger Bar on 7th St. | Photo courtesy of M&BB Facebook page
The patio at Mussel & Burger Bar on 7th St. | Photo courtesy of M&BB Facebook page

owners never marketed the use of its gorgeous sunken patio! Clearly the OLE Restaurant Group knew the value of this amazing space, and under the brand of Mussel & Burger Bar it’s now open. Take a look at its Facebook page. Great place for a downtown meal al fresco.

Tampa Bay Times’ exposé on “Farm to Fable” movement the talk of National Restaurant Association show: If you haven’t read the TBT’s excellent and exhaustive story on the abuse of and outright lies told about farm-to-table foods, you should. It’s an eye opener. It generated serious buzz at the recent National Restaurant Show in Chicago.

Some Louisville restaurants aren’t immune to such tale spinning either. Seafood here, especially, is dubiously marketed by some spots as fresh off the boat, a day out of the water, etc., when there’s no chance that’s happening. Zero chance. Whenever you hear at the table, “Louisville is a UPS hub, which guarantees we get the freshest fish,” take it with a grain of salt. That’s no slight to UPS or the people telling you that story. What most aren’t aware of is how long it takes a seafood trawler to head out to sea, catch fish, store it and bring it back in. Weeks, in some cases.

Plus, to get it to the dock, to a processor, on a plane and to most wholesalers takes no less than 48 hours. Only in rare cases, such as when Honolulu Seafood (and others) harvests and processes its own fish and ships it themselves are you getting the freshest fish fastest. And oh, boy, is it bloody expensive!

Doubtless it’s exceptionally hard and expensive to serve food that’s truly local and super-fresh, but if you can’t get it and make a profit serving it, don’t claim you’re doing it.

Kentucky Bourbon Affair next week: If you didn’t hear my podcast with Adam Johnson about next week’s Kentucky Bourbon Affair, then check it out here. If you have some money you can blow on this incredible bourbon day camp but haven’t made plans, visit the site and see what events have tickets left for sale. I got to do several things last year, and I can tell you they were amazing.

Whisky Live Louisville on June 18: Want a more diverse whiskey experience? Then get your tickets now for Whisky Live, set for Saturday, June 16, from 6-9:30 p.m. (Click here for info and tickets.) We love our bourbon here, but this is about brown liquor from all around the world plus bourbon. Long story short, this is an educational experience for whiskey lovers that’s never made it to a mid-market like Louisville. Past sites have included New York, San Francisco, Chicago, etc. We’re super fortunate to have it come here.