The James Beard Foundation, nicknamed “the Oscars of food world,” announced its awards finalists for 2014 earlier this week. Susan Puckett, a 1977 Ole Miss journalism school alumnus, was nominated in the Visual Storytelling category of the journalism awards. Her essay, “Dinin’ in the Delta,” appeared in the May 2013 issue of The Local Palate magazine with photos by Langdon Clay, a Sumner-based photographer whose work is also featured in Puckett’s culinary travelogue, “Eat Drink Delta: a Hungry Traveler’s Journey Through the Soul of the South,” published in January 2013 by University of Georgia Press.
Last spring, Puckett co-taught the Delta Project depth reporting class with Overby Fellow Bill Rose. Over spring break, they supervised honors students as they reported stories about the dining culture and eating habits of the Delta, resulting in the magazine, Land of Plenty.
A Jackson native, Puckett now lives in Decatur, Ga., where she was the award-winning food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for almost 19 years. She has written or collaborated on eight other books including “Citizen Farmers: The Biodynamic Way to Grow Healthy Food, Build Thriving Communities, and Give Back to the Earth” with Daron “Farmer D” Joffe, released this week by Stewart, Tabori & Chang.
Other James Beard nominees include two Oxford chefs, John Currence, whose cookbook, “Pickles Pigs and Whiskey: Recipes from My Three Favorite Food Groups and Then Some” (Andrews McMeel) is in the running in the American Cooking category; and Vishwesh Bhatt of Snackbar, who is nominated in the Best Chef: South category.
Winners will be announced May 2 and May 5 in New York.