Each year, the SFA honors one of the region’s leading culinary lights with the Craig Claiborne Lifetime Achievement Award, given to innovators whom all thinking eaters should know, the sort of people who have made indelible marks on our cuisine and our culture, setting regional standards and catalyzing national dialogues.
Named for the Mississippi-born journalist and critic who long directed New York Times food coverage, the 2014 award was presented at the 17th Southern Foodways Symposium, held October 23-26 at the University of Mississippi. This year the SFA honored food activist and fermentation revivalist Sandor Elix Katz. The author of Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation, Katz is an in-demand speaker who appears at conferences around the world.
A former policy wonk, Katz departed New York City in 1993 for rural Cannon County, Tennessee, where he now teaches and mentors a new generation of food activists and foodways practitioners. Katz has been profiled in publications including The New York Times and The New Yorker.
At the Symposium, SFA board vice-president Rob Long hosted a wide-ranging conversation with Katz that spanned topics including identity, the heritage and practice of preservation, and the connections between activism and foodways. Also at the Symposium, Joe York of the Southern Documentary Project debuted a short SFA film that focused on Katz’s life in rural Tennessee.