At the Champagne-soaked James Beard awards two nights ago, I had my own proud moment: Cookbook author and personal mentor Lorna Sass won an award for her latest book, Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way. Two years ago, Lorna had just started the book, and I assisted her for six months, helping to organize her files, learn the best way to cook grains and develop recipes. By the end of my time working in her sunny Upper West Side apartment, I knew the difference between white wheat and red, and quinoa seemed very ordinary next to the lesser known grains we cooked, like kamut, teff and Job’s tears. I also learned lots of tricks, like drawing diagrams to keep track of which pot is which when simultaneously testing four methods for cooking brown rice. Lorna says that I, along with her other young assistants, kept her in touch with things like blogs, Microsoft Excel and contemporary slang.

I caught up with Lorna after she won and had the chance to meet her fantastic editor, Rica Allannic.

“Thanks for the shout out,” Rica said to Lorna after her acceptance speech.

“A shout out. Is that what you call it?” said Lorna.

Yes, Lorna. And here’s one to you.