The Art of Eating Prize was established in 2014 and is awarded annually to the author of the year’s best book about food (or food and drink together). Where other food book awards involve nominations in diverse categories, The Art of Eating Prize focuses on a single best book. The founders of the prize, by rewarding the highest quality work, hope to encourage the excellence of food writing in general. The prize is worth $10,000.
The book must be aimed at a broad audience and must have been published in English in the United States in the calendar year preceding the awarding of the prize (for the 2015 prize, books must have been published in 2014). The winner is decided by a panel of judges drawn from varied realms connected with food and drink. In 2015, the seven judges are Nancy Harmon Jenkins (chair), Harold McGee, Garrett Oliver, Daniel Patterson, Tejal Rao, Lucas Wittmann, and Winnie Yang. Among them are a chef, two editors, a historian, a brewer, two restaurant critics, and an expert in the science of food. All are writers and among their books are several bestsellers.
To be considered for the prize, books are nominated by their publishers; each imprint may nominate up to three books. There is no charge for nominating a book. Although self-publishers may not nominate their own books, up to two self-published books are nominated by each of five independent bookstores specialized in food — Rabelais in Maine, Kitchen Arts & Letters in New York City, The Cook Book Stall in Philadelphia, The Book Larder in Seattle, and Omnivore Books in San Francisco. In addition, each judge, after all the other nominations are in, may nominate two books. The judges may not be approached directly about the prize, and contacting any of them about a particular book may cause it to be withdrawn from consideration.
For the 2015 prize, nominations opened on September 30, 2014 and closed on November 30, 2014. On February 2, 2015, a long list of 12 books was announced, and on February 17 a short list of six books was announced. The winner was announced on March 2, 2015.
The 2015 Art of Eating Prize is made possible through the generous support of Chipotle Mexican Grill, the Institute of Culinary Education, Louis/Dressner Selections, Jasper Hill Farm, and La Quercia Cured Meats.