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When it was released early last year, Mr. Myhrvold’s work left many in the food world awestruck at both its breadth and eagerness to question and test many of the assumptions under which both home and professional kitchens operate, from the shelf life of lettuce to the best grilling techniques.

Some critics panned it for catering to a tiny subset of chefs fascinated by an often laboriously deconstructive approach to food, using gels, foams and fancy laboratory equipment the likes of which few cooks — or even restaurant pros — ever will encounter.

But Mr. Myhrvold has defended his book — which has more than 1,500 recipes and thousands of rich, sometimes stunning photographs — saying it helps readers, even those who have no interest in modernist-style cooking, to understand what is happening behind the scenes when they are cooking.

The foundation’s awards honor those who follow in the footsteps of Beard, considered the dean of American cooking when he died in 1985. The ceremony was held in New York, where the Beard Foundation is based. Friday’s ceremony honored winners in media and publishing; a separate ceremony was to be held Monday for chefs and restaurants.

Novelist and Gourmet magazine writer Laurie Colwin’s “Home Cooking” and “More Home Cooking,” were added to the foundation’s Cookbook Hall of Fame on Friday. She died in 1992.

Food Network personality Ted Allen took home two Beard awards, one in the studio television show category for his show “Chopped,” the other for top food media personality.

Gabriel Hamilton, chef/owner of New York’s Prune restaurant, won the writing and literature award for her acerbically funny memoir, “Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef,” while longtime food writer Paula Wolfert won the international category for her cookbook, “The Food of Morocco.”

New media also were represented at the ceremony. National Public Radio’s the Salt food blog ( ) won for group food blog, while Elissa Altman’s Poor Man’s Feast ( took the award for individual food blog.

Maestro Muti to conduct for pope in Vatican

Maestro Riccardo Muti will conduct a concert in the Vatican in honor of Pope Benedict XVI.

Mr. Muti will lead Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera in selections from Vivaldi and Verdi in Friday’s concert, which is being offered to the pope by Italy’s president in honor of the seventh anniversary of his election to the pontificate, according to a statement on Muti’s website.

La Scala opera house announced last week that Daniel Barenboim will conduct Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony when the pope visits Milan on June 1.

Benedict is a classical music aficionado and plays the piano.

It’s not the first time Mr. Muti will conduct for a pope: He conducted selections of Verdi in 1983 when Pope John Paul II became the first pontiff to attend a performance at La Scala.

Mr. Muti left La Scala in 2005 amid bitter controversy over artistic and programming differences and currently is music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

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