Christine Keff Wins Chef Award

Christine Keff, chef/owner of Flying Fish in Seattle's Belltown, was named best regional chef for the Northwest at The James Beard Foundation culinary awards presented in New York City on Monday.

Since opening the restaurant in the summer of 1995, Keff has been recognized as one of the area's most innovative chefs, especially with sea food. A Beard nominee last year as well, Keff twice has been invited to cook at the prestigious James Beard House in New York. In 1997, her menu was crispy-skin steelhead with soy-sake marinade, chilled scallop salad, oyster broth, Katafi shrimp and quick-fried sea snails.

Other honors include: One of Gourmet magazine's "Top 10 Favorite Restaurants" in Seattle, 1998, Vancouver Magazine's 1998 gold-medal award, and Bon Appetit magazine's top 14 new restaurants in the country, 1996.

Active in numerous charitable events, Keff has lent her culinary talents to benefits for the March of Dimes, Share our Strength food-bank coalition, Children's Hospital & Regional Medical Center and Bailey Boushay House, among others. Keff also is a frequent speaker at culinary conventions, including the International Association of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs and the International Conference on Gastronomy, American Institute of Food and Wine.

Some of the other Beard honorees announced Monday:

-- Atlanta cookbook author Joseph Dabney for his book "Smokehouse Ham, Spoonbread, & Scuppernong Wine" (Cumberland House Publishing, $27.95), about the folklore of Southern Appalachia, its cookery and culture, who took home the KitchenAid Cookbook of the Year Award.

-- Chicago chef Charlie Trotter, owner of Charlie Trotter's restaurant, was named All-Clad Metalcrafters Outstanding Chef. And his book, "Charlie Trotter's Desserts" (Ten Speed Press, $50), received the best food photography award for photos by Tim Turner and Paul Eldridge.

-- New York's The Four Seasons won the Perrier Outstanding Restaurant, awarded to a restaurant in continuous operation for at least 10 years.

-- Mary Risley won the Humanitarian of the Year award as founder of Food Runners, a volunteer community food-distribution program in San Francisco, where she is owner and founder of Tante Marie's Cooking School.

-- Ferdinand Metz, president of the Culinary Institute of America since 1980, was presented with the James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award for his impact on cooking and culinary education.

-- Writer Jean Anderson of North Carolina was inducted into the KitchenAid Cookbook Hall of Fame for her 22 cookbooks.

-- The Best New Restaurant award went to Babbo, New York City. Marcus Samuelsson of New York's Aquavit won the Perrier-Jouet Rising Star Chef of the Year award. The New York restaurant Le Bernardin received the Rums of Puerto Rico Outstanding Service award.

Others named best chef in their region were:

California: Paul Bertolli, Oliveto, Oakland.

Mid-Atlantic: Jeffrey Buben, Vidalia, Washington, D.C.

Midwest: Debbie Gold and Michael Smith, The American Restaurant, Kansas City, Mo.

New York City: Lidia Bastianich, Felidia Ristorante.

Northeast: Melissa Kelly, Old Chatham Sheepherding Co. Inn, Old Chatham, N.Y.

Southeast: Jamie Shannon, Commander's Palace, New Orleans.

- Times staff and news services