Idaho grads earn prestigious James Beard Foundation Award for groundbreaking podcast

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Photo courtesy of Copper and Heat Former Coeur d’Alene resident Katy Osuna and husband Ricardo Osuna celebrate their recent award for best podcast from the James Beard Foundation, an organization that recognizes excellence in all things culinary. Their podcast, Copper and Heat, dives into the unspoken traditions and goings-on of fine restaurants across the nation, including how women make up a very small percentage of head chefs.

They can stand the heat, and they plan to stay in the kitchen.

Katy and Ricardo Osuna are fetching prestigious awards while they’re in there, too, sharing stories of what really goes on behind the swinging doors of fine dining kitchens in their groundbreaking Copper and Heat podcast.

The couple won best podcast at the 2019 James Beard Foundation Broadcast Media Awards during a ceremony in New York City on April 26.

“We’re still in shock!” said Katy, who is from Coeur d’Alene. “We feel so honored and humbled that the James Beard Foundation recognized us for the work that we’re doing to bring the voices of restaurant cooks to light, as well as audio and podcasting as a platform to do that. We were in the company of some really wonderful cookbook authors, TV producers and journalists and we feel incredibly privileged.”

A decorated chef, Katy now lives in San Jose, Calif., with Ricardo, a digital media producer and musician, and their well-loved “podcat” Bella. She and Ricardo are graduates of the College of Idaho.

Katy explained that Copper and Heat is a “sound-rich, longer form narrative podcast.”

“It weaves together various structural and stylistic elements throughout the different episodes, including: Katy’s personal narrative; clips from interviews with other industry professionals; reporting and commentary of some of the cornerstone events in the food world; experimental sound collages that bring together narrative, originally composed music and the sounds of a kitchen," she said.

The award-winning first season, “Be A Girl,” explores why only a small percentage of chefs and head chefs are female across the culinary world. The timing for this topic to be examined couldn’t have been better for Copper and Heat.

“I’d been working at Manresa — a 3 Michelin-starred restaurant in California — for about a year and a half when the idea first came up,” Katy said. “It was an incredibly stressful and demanding job, as you might imagine, and I was not only thinking about how I could get my job done right, but I was thinking more about how I fit in as a woman in the kitchen.

"I’ve been working in restaurants for seven years at this point, and I’d almost always been the only woman in the kitchen on the savory side (rather than in pastry) and I wanted to understand why. So I would go home and talk with Ricardo about it a lot, and we thought that maybe I should be having more of these conversations with my coworkers and friends in the industry, both men and women, and explore more of the reasons why there aren’t as many women in the kitchen, and why there are even less in positions of leadership.”

She said with the #MeToo stories coming out, especially about big chef heavyweights like Mario Batali, people are starting to take the issues of women in kitchens seriously.

“So many of my friends have really terrible stories, not necessarily about sexual harassment, but about getting paid less, not being taken seriously, dealing with sexist comments and so on,” she said. “It’s just now that these issues are coming to the forefront and starting to be taken seriously. For a long time it has been ‘that’s how the kitchen is. Deal with it, or get out.’”

The James Beard Foundation is a national nonprofit that celebrates food culture and recognizes excellence in food and beverage industries. Its awards are most sought-after and accepted as badges of honor.

“We wanted to really bring people into the world and mind of a cook so that there’s more empathy when eating out at restaurants,” Katy said.

“This first season is about women in fine dining kitchens, but we touch on subjects like work-life balance, stress and depression, and so many things that cooks go through every day that are really hard. We’ve had a lot of people, men and women, reach out to us to say, ‘I thought I was alone, it’s so nice to hear that others are going through the same things.’ So I think it’s really important for cooks, who are heads down trying to get their work done every day, to hear that they’re not alone.”

Info: www.copperandheat.com

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