Restaurateur Extraordinaire Sirio Maccioni Named 2014 James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

by Kristin Tablang Photographed by Sirio Maccioni, Susan Bennett, Tony Bennett==Grand Opening of SIRIO RISTORANTE at The Iconic PIERRE, A TAJ Hotel==Sirio Ristorante, Pierre Hotel, New York==October 24, 2012==©Patrick McMullan==Photo - Dustin Wayne Harris/PatrickMcMullan.com====
Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The James Beard Foundation recently announced that Sirio Maccioni — one of New York’s most celebrated restaurateurs, and owner of Sirio Ristorante and Le Cirque — will be the recipient of the 2014 James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He will be recognized at the James Beard Foundation Awards Ceremony and Gala Reception, which will be held at Lincoln Center on May 5th.

The highly coveted honor is bestowed yearly upon an individual in the culinary world whose lifetime body of work has had a notable impact on the way American society eats, cooks, and thinks about food.

A deeply revered cookbook author and educator, James Beard was a fierce champion of American cuisine who helped educate and mentor generations of professional chefs and food buffs, instilling in them the value of wholesome, healthy, and delicious cuisine.

Since it was founded in 1986, the James Beard Foundation has therefore aimed to “celebrate, nurture, and honor America’s diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire.” The James Beard Awards, which were created in 1990, were established further this goal by recognizing culinary professionals for unparalleled excellence and achievement in their fields.

“Our foundation is delighted to be honoring Sirio Maccioni, whose hospitality is legend[ary],” said Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation. “Charming guests and indulging their palates for nearly half a century, Sirio has not only set a precedent for fine dining but helped launch the careers of some of the country’s most talented chefs.”

Born in 1932 and raised in the Tuscan town of Montecatini Terme, Maccioni developed a deep ardor for the culinary world while attending restaurant and hotel training programs in Paris and Hamburg. Following a series of apprenticeships in Montecatini and Paris, he held various roles at hotels and restaurants in France, Italy, and Germany prior to moving to the United States. Once in New York City, he quickly settled in and, soon enough, acquired a loyal following at the historic Wall Street eatery, Delmonico’s. His culinary career gained even more traction as he became the maître d’ at the renowned Colony restaurant, where he became popular amongst the City’s who’s who.

In 1974 Le Cirque was born, and Maccioni achieved his lifelong dream of opening his own restaurant.

Maccioni’s powerful influence on the restaurant industry through the past few decades helped buoy the talent and burgeon the skills of some of the nation’s best chefs, including David Bouley, Daniel Boulud, Terrance Brennan, Andrew Carmellini, Michael Lomonaco, Marc Murphy, Alain Sailhac, Bill Telepan, Jacques Torres, and Geoffrey Zakarian. In tribute to his unparalleled culinary acumen and generosity, the New York Landmark Conservancy named Maccioni one of its Living Landmarks in 1995.

The Italian culinary master is credited for creating Pasta Primavera, a signature dish prepared tableside at Le Cirque, and for popularizing Creme Brulee in the United States.

“Receiving the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award is a tremendous honor,” said Maccioni. “I am especially proud to receive this prestigious recognition as Le Cirque celebrates its 40th Anniversary, commemorating four decades of triumphs, challenges, and many milestones. I am also humbled to be recognized by the Foundation and join such an esteemed class of award-winners that have come before me.”

The James Beard Foundation Book, Broadcast, and Journalism Awards Dinner — an exclusive event honoring the country’s top cookbook writers, culinary broadcast producers and hosts, and food journalists, will take place at Gotham Hall in New York City on May 2nd.





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