The award-winning cookbook author is a champion in more ways than we can count.
Paula Wolfert
Credit: James Beard Foundation

Between the Oscars this weekend, the IACP awards going down last weekend and the James Beard Nominations coming out shortly, awards season is in full swing. Sometimes overlooked for the flashier awards like Best Restaurant or Rising Star Chef, the Humanitarian of the Year Award and the Lifetime Achievement award are the kinds of honors that celebrate individuals who make a positive impact on the food world, and in turn, bring the season's fervor back down to earth for the better. In February, José Andres was awarded Humanitarian of the Year Award, and today, the foundation has named its Lifetime Achievement Honoree: Multiple James Beard Award–winning author Paula Woflert.

Last year's Lifetime Achievement Honoree was Nora Pouillon of Restaurant Nora in Washington, D.C.

Known for her Mediterranian cookbooks, Wolfert started her career by working for English chef Dione Lucas, the first woman to graduate from Le Cordon Bleu, and later worked for James Beard, who she fondly refers to as "Jim." Her first cookbook, Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco, opened the doors to a cuisine with which Americans weren't very familiar when it was published in 1973. Two decades later, she was still bringing the fresh and healthy flavors to the Mediterranian to American home cooks, winning a James Beard Award for her 1994 book The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Most recently, Wolfert has been a champion in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. After she was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment in 2013, she decided to throw all her energy into becoming an outspoken activist for prevention. Last year, food writer and editor Emily Kaiser Thelin captured Wolfert's courage in the moving book Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert's Renegade Life."

In a statement from the James Beard Foundation, Woflort says, "I am so honored to receive the James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award. This honor is especially meaningful to me because I knew Jim Beard well, and in fact, back in 1957, he gave me my first professional job in food.”

The author goes on to express gratitude to the foundation for honoring many of the women whose recipes she has strived to capture in her cookbooks. “I view this latest honor as the keystone in the arch of my career."