Books for cooks - When is a James Beard Award-winning journalist, not?

When she is Colette Rossant, author of The World in My Kitchen: The Adventures of a (Mostly) French Woman in America.

Hot on the heels of Robert Irvine, host of Food Networks Dinner: Impossible, getting caught with what the Huffington Post calls a "fake resume," and just as the James Beard Foundation 2008 award nominees are announced, yet another foodie is found with inflated credentials. In this case, it is Rossant. And the claim is that she is “A James Beard Award-winning journalist.”

She is not.

We’ve spent the last two weeks looking at some of the newest and most interesting food books. And the plan was to end with a review of a food-based memoir written by a Frenchwoman living in New York.

But then I found a snag. The dust jacket on the book says the author is “A James Beard Award-winning journalist.” The publishers Website does, too. But much like other people investigating another memoir, James Frey's A Million Little Pieces (remember the whole Oprah fiasco?), I could not confirm this fact anywhere.

What does this mean?
So I sent a few emails. Her publisher confirmed Rossant never won a James Beard Foundation award. The James Beard Foundation confirmed Rossant never won a James Beard Foundation award. And her daughter, who handles her mother's PR, confirmed Rossant never won a James Beard Foundation award.

Is this mistake important?
The James Beard Foundation calls the awards "... the country’s most coveted honor ..." Certainly that cache would help sell books. In fact, it is one of the reasons why I was interested in this book.

So, yes, it is important. And not just because it says something about the author.

No one cares
Robert Irvine issued a statement stating he is ". . . truly sorry for misleading people and misstating the facts." The publisher of A Million Little Pieces offered restitution to those who bought the book.

But despite the fact that Rossant's publisher, her publicist and daughter, and the James Beard Foundation have known for weeks about this, they rushed to do . . . nothing. No offers of restitution. Not even a simple apology.

In fact, the author's biography on her publisher's site still calls her “A James Beard Award-winning journalist.” A statement they know is false.

If a major fact like this is inaccurate, how accurate can we trust the rest of the book to be?
I don't know. Because this one, glaring inaccuracy was enough for me to put the book down. There are just too many other books deserving of my time, my attention, and my trust.