Bread Furst’s Mark Furstenberg was among the winners revealed Monday, May 1 at the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The ceremony, hosted by actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, presents some of the most prestigious awards in the food industry.

Mark Furstenberg didn’t start baking until the age of 52. Before starting his Washington, D.C.-based bakery Bread Furst in 2014 at the age of 74, Furstenberg has previously owned Marvelous Market in D.C. He was the first baker in the area to offer traditional European breads. Following that, he opened Bread Line, a restaurant which won him nominations from the James Beard Foundation as best chef in the Mid-Atlantic.

He went on to be a consultant for Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery and helped to develop the bread program for the Napa Valley campus of the Culinary Institute of America.

Mark Furstenberg says that he loves the neighborhood feel of his bakery:  “There is literally no day in which someone doesn’t say to me, “Thank you for doing this.” Or, “You have done something wonderful for the neighborhood.” Those sentiments make me feel as if I have made a real contribution. Finally, I love the children, the streams of children who come to the bakery and taste something. I think all the time that I have done something wonderful for these children, and this bakery will become a part of their lives that will never entirely leave them.”

Image courtesy of Dori Pfaff
JBF Award winners will receive a certificate and a medallion engraved with the James Beard Foundation Awards insignia, as well as the honor and prestige that comes with the distinctions.

Other Outstanding Baker finalists were Ken Forkish of Ken’s Artisan Bakery in Portland, Zachary Golper of Bien Cuit in Brooklyn, Greg Wade of Publican Quality Bread in Chicago, and Belinda Leong and Michel Suas of B. Patisserie in San Francisco.

The following are several of the key awards handed out in this year’s James Beard Foundation awards:

Outstanding Baker

Mark Furstenberg, Bread Furst, Washington, D.C.

Outstanding Pastry Chef

Ghaya Oliveira, Daniel, NYC

Outstanding Chef

Michael Solomonov, Zahav, Philadelphia

Outstanding Restaurant

Topolobampo, Chicago

Best New Restaurant

Le Coucou, NYC

The 2017 James Beard Foundation Book Awards, Baking and Dessert

Dorie’s Cookies
Dorie Greenspan
(Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

The James Beard Foundation is a national not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to celebrating and nurturing America’s food culture. It administers a number of diverse programs that include educational initiatives, food industry awards, scholarships for culinary students, publications, chef advocacy training, and thought leader convening.