Breitbachs Return to Balltown with Culinary 'Oscar'

By Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

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By Daren Sukhram

NEW YORK - The Breitbach family is returning to Iowa after receiving a prestigious culinary award in New York City.

The James Beard Foundation awarded Breitbach's Country Dining with the America's Classic Award Monday night.

That recognizes the restaurant's connection to its community. Breitbach's is once again rebuilding in Balltown after fire destroyed it twice in one year. Breitbach's dates back to the 1850's, making it Iowa's oldest restaurant business.

The Breitbach Bunch strolled across the red carpet at Lincoln Center surrounded by celebrities. Emeril Lagasse, Richard Gere, and Lorraine Bracco, to name a few.

"It's something small town people don't normally experience," said Breitbach family friend.

The family was honored among the finest culinary artists in the nation.

"I think you can tell by the outstanding chefs and fine dining who are here at the Oscars of the food industry, I think the America's classics are the favorite awards of the night," said James Beard Foundation President Susan Ungaro.

During the awards ceremony a short video told the story of Breitbach's Country Dining's long legacy, the back to back fires and efforts to re-build.

The James Beard Foundation's president says a committee selected Breitbach's as an American Classic Award Winner before they learned about the fires.

"I can tell you we didn't know about it. I remember hearing we called Mike and Cindy to tell them they were being recognized as America's Classics and had just suffered the second fire," said Ungaro.

Dozens of people congratulated and encouraged Mike and Cindy. A big city impressed by this small town guy. A small town guy wearing a tux.

"Are you ready to get out of this? I am ready to be in my normal clothes. Like your shorts and your cut off Wisconsin shirt? Right, exactly," said Cindy & Mike Breitbach.

You can take the Breitbach's out of Balltown, but you can't take the Balltown out of the Breitbach's.

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