Drink Eat Events INSPIRE Melanie Young

Early Years of JBF Awards Remembered


May 4, 2015 – The 25th annual James Beard Foundation Awards take place tonight in Chicago.  This year is the first time the Awards have taken place away from the Foundation’s home base of New York City. It’s also the first time I’ve written my own personal remembrances about the start of The James Beard Foundation Awards and my significant role from the beginning and for more than 16 years. Looking back is bittersweet and filled with pride at the history we made and the lives we impacted.

Keeping in mind that the history of the Awards in those early years may be lost as those associated from the start are no longer with us or with  the Foundation-I share this article on –

Follow the news and find out who takes home this year’s honors here.   – Melanie Young




A Man and His Ham- Allan Benton

posted by Melanie Young

In Tennessee we have special terms to measure distance like “yonder,” “up the road” and “down a ways.” This can mean anything from a short drive or a long haul.

Just up the road about an hour or so drive north of my hometown Chattanooga, Tennessee, is Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Ham in Madisonville. Some of the nation’s best country ham and bacon comes this relatively small facility in operation since 1947. It’s easy to pass by the unassuming building  when you’re driving along the highway. But you’ll never pass up a serving of Benton’s ham and bacon once you have a taste.

Allan Benton


I first discovered Allan Benton thanks to my mother, Sonia Young. She promised Chef Daniel Boulud a Tennessee country ham one night after a particularly indulgent dinner at Restaurant Daniel in New York City. After we sent Chef Boulud a Benton’s ham we made it our tradition to send thank you hams to every chef who took care of us at a dinner in their restaurants.  Over the years I’d send packets of Benton’s bacon to friends and colleagues as thank you gifts.