Clients of The Lisa Ekus Group win James Beard Awards

Sara Pokorny
Literary and Marketing Associate
The Lisa Ekus Group

For immediate release

April 27, 2017 – The Lisa Ekus Group is thrilled to announce that Virginia Willis’Lighten Up, Y’all: Classic Southern Recipes Made Healthy and Wholesome (Ten Speed Press) has received a James Beard Award in the Focus on Health category, and Toni Tipton-Martin’s The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks (University of Texas Press) has received a James Beard Award in the Reference and Scholarship category.
Virginia Willis is a Georgia-born, French-trained who has cooked Lapin Normandie with Julia Child in France, prepared lunch for President Clinton, catered a bowling party for Jane Fonda, and harvested capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily. She is the author of Bon Appétit, Y’allBasic to Brilliant, Y’all, and Lighten Up, Y’all for Ten Speed Press as well as Okra, part of the UNC press SAVOR THE SOUTH® series, and Gritsby Short Stack Editions. She is currently partnering with public media powerhouse WGBH in development of a TV series to air nationally on public television stations. The companion book, Secrets of the Southern Table, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Spring 2017.

Lighten Up, Y’all: Classic Southern Recipes Made Healthy and Wholesome is a collection of classic Southern comfort food recipes – including seven-layer dip, chicken and gravy, and strawberry shortcake – made lighter, healthier, and completely guilt-free.  Each dish is packed with real Southern flavor, but made with more wholesome ingredients and techniques.

Toni Tipton-Martin, a new client of The Lisa Ekus Group (Toni joined our agency after The Jemima Code was sold to UTP), is an award-winning food and nutrition journalist and community activist who is busy building a healthier community through her books, classes, and foundation. She has been invited twice by First Lady Michelle Obama to the White House for her outreach to help families live healthier lives, and also received the 2014 Southern Foodways Alliance John Egerton Prize for this work. She is a co-founder and president of the board of Foodways Texas, a member of Les Dames D’Escoffier Austin Chapter, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and Jack and Jill of America, Inc., and is a co-founder and former president of Southern Foodways Alliance. Her second book, JUBILEE, will be published by Rizzoli in October 2016.

The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbookspresents more than 150 black cookbooks that range from a rare 1827 house servant’s manual, the first book published by an African American in the trade, to modern classics by authors such as Edna Lewis and Vertamae Grosvenor. Toni provides notes on the authors and their contributions and the significance of each book, while her chapter introductions summarize the cultural history reflected in the books that follow. The Jemima Code is the winner of the 2015 Art of Eating Prize, the Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Award of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, and a Finalist for the Gourmand Awards.

The James Beard Awards are presented annually by the James Beard Foundation for excellence in cuisine, culinary writing, and culinary education. The awards honor the finest chefs, restaurants, wine professionals, journalists, cookbook authors, restaurant designers, and other food professionals in the United States.

We are so proud of this extraordinary accomplishment by our authors, and are thrilled to work with such incredible talent. Congratulations to all!


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