D. Watkins is honored at the James Beard Media Awards – Baltimore Sun

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Author, screenwriter and University of Baltimore professor D. Watkins can add another accolade to his long list of accomplishments: James Beard Award winner.

The Baltimore native was named the winner in the beverage writing category at the James Beard 2024 Media Awards ceremony Saturday night in Chicago. The James Beard Foundation’s awards for media include categories for books, podcasts, broadcast media and journalism.

Watkins was nominated for a James Beard Journalism Award for an essay published in Salon, for which he is an editor at large. The piece examines the growing sobriety movement and Watkins’ own experiences abstaining from alcohol.

It’s also a tribute to his cousin, Maja Griffin, who died last September. Griffin, an accomplished bartender who worked at Baltimore hot spots like Charleston, Alma Cocina Latina and Bloom’s, was a champion of Watkins’ efforts to cut back on drinking.


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In his James Beard acceptance speech, Watkins thanked Griffin, saying “Rest in heaven, Maja. I know you’re pulling strings from upstairs.” He also thanked his wife for giving him the space to research and write freely and everyone in the room who came from Baltimore, including Woodberry Kitchen’s Spike Gjerde.

The essay isn’t Watkins’ first foray into writing about food and drink. He’s previously mused about how hard it is to get a salad in Baltimore and his preference for real crab meat over the imitation stuff.

“I’m not really known as a food writer, but I love food, I love to drink, I love conversation,” Watkins told The Baltimore Sun last month.

Other winners of 2024 James Beard Media Awards include chef José Andrés, who won for his book “The World Central Kitchen Cookbook,” written by Andrés and World Central Kitchen with Sam Chapple-Sokol (Clarkson Potter).

The James Beard Award winners in the chef and restaurant categories will be announced Monday. For the first time since 2015, two Maryland chefs have made it onto the Beard Awards’ shortlist at one time. Both Tony Conte, of Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana in Darnestown, and Harley Peet of Bas Rouge in Easton, are finalists in the Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic category.

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