André Simon Food & Drink Book Awards winners announcedBy Phoebe French
In a virtual ceremony held this week, the winners of this year’s André Simon Food & Drink Book Awards 2020 were announced out of a shortlist of four drinks titles and seven food tomes.
The winners of the 42nd André Simon Awards were toasted with bottles supplied by Liberty Wines in a virtual ceremony held on 3 March.
This year’s judging panel was guided by independent assessors Lisa Markwell, food editor of the Sunday Times, and wine expert and restaurateur John Hoskins MW.
The winning drinks book this year was Max Allen’s Intoxicating: Ten Drinks that Shaped Australia, which pipped works by Jane Anson (Inside Bordeaux), Lisa Granik (The Wines of Georgia), and Dan Keeling & Mark Andrew (Wine from Another Galaxy) to the post.
Allen’s book takes the reader on a personal journey through Australia’s drinking history, meeting famous characters along the way. Allen introduces his audience to the fermented sap of the Tasmanian cider gum, enjoyed by Indigenous people long before the European invasion, and an iconic 1960s Australian lager.
Commenting on the competition for the drinks title winner, John Hoskins MW said: “There has been an astonishing range of brilliant drinks books this year. What made the short-listed group stand out was their ability to break new ground, to give a really fresh interpretation of their subject. And what made Intoxicating the outstanding work in the group was Max Allen’s achievement in weaving the minor world of drinks into a major historical and cultural context. His is a book that anyone with an interest in humanity would enjoy; it is a drinks book that will stand the test of time.”
Scooping the food award was Caroline Eden’s Red Sands. Commenting on the work, Lisa Markwell said: “In a year of vicarious travel and virtual feasts, Red Sands gave us the most sumptuous and delicious escape into other lands. Caroline Eden wears her 10 years of research lightly in this book, with its compelling exploration of the ‘stans’ through their food, where it intersects with politics, people, geography and history.”
The John Avery Award was given to Mark Kurlansky’s Salmon, while Harold McGee’s Nose Dive won a special commendation.
The winners each received a bottle of Pommery’s 1999 Cuvée Louise Champagne in honour of André Simon, who was the UK agent for Pommery before the First World War.
There over 170 submissions to the 2020 awards, and it was the first time that the awards have named a longlist before deciding on the final shortlisted titles.