Berkeleyside contributor Sarah Henry, whose writing has been acknowledged with a food journalism award. Photo: Jacqueline Van Heyst

Sarah Henry, Berkeleyside’s food writer since March 2010, was last night presented with the Karola Saekel Craib Excellence in Food Journalism award in recognition of her fine writing and reporting.

The San Francisco chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, an international philanthropic society of female leaders in the culinary world, established the fellowship in honor of Karola Saekel Craib, the San Francisco Chronicle reporter whose writing helped to define food journalism as we know it. Saekel Craib, who lived in Berkeley, died earlier this year.

The $2,000 award was presented to Henry by Saekel Craib’s daughter, Anne Craib, at a ceremony held at Café Rouge on Fourth Street.

Speaking on behalf of Les Dames d’Escoffier, Roberta Klugman said the award was an acknowledgement for great work, and also an encouragement to keep writing. “Among a group of really good nominated writers, Sarah exemplified what the fellowship is about,” she said. Klugman added that many of the judges first came across Henry’s work on Berkeleyside.

“It was a lovely surprise to learn that I’d been chosen to receive this award in memory of such a pioneering female food reporter,” said Henry. “I’m grateful to the San Francisco chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier for their acknowledgment, generosity, and encouragement.

“It’s a challenging time for those of us who make our livings as freelance journalists. It’s also an exciting moment to cover the food beat. I feel fortunate I am able to write about a subject I care a great deal about, and I’m grateful to Berkeleyside for being the first media outlet to bring me on board as a regular food columnist. I’m also lucky to live and work in Berkeley, where many fascinating food stories begin.”

Henry’s writing has been instrumental in helping to establish Berkeleyside’s voice and reach in the community since our launch in October 2009, and is often cited by readers as their favorite aspect of the site — whether she is profiling established culinary professionals, introducing emerging food artisans, or chronicling the growing food justice movement.

Always with her finger on the pulse of food issues, Henry has interviewed many of the great and the good of the local food scene in her “Berkeley Bites” series; and she has covered subjects as varied as vegan speed dating, the role of the city’s corner stores, and where to find the best pizza in Berkeley.

She has also served as a chronicler of record of Berkeley’s many food institutions, be it Chez Panisse, or the Cheese Board Collective. Perhaps most importantly, she has brought to wide public attention the admirable work being done to reform food policy, increase food access, and elevate the quality of food available to all, be it school children or people of lesser means.

As well as writing for Berkeleyside, Henry is a contributor to KQED’s Bay Area BitesCivil EatsThe AtlanticCalifornia MagazineSan Francisco Magazine, and Edible East Bay. She began her career as a staff writer for the Center for Investigative Reporting, was a volunteer for many years at the King Middle School Edible Schoolyard, and is the author of the popular blog Lettuce Eat Kale.

Nominations for the Karola Saekel Craib award were assessed by a Les Dames d’Escoffier review committee that included urban farmer and author Novella Carpenter and food journalism experts Margo True, Janet Fletcher, Antonia Allegra, Debby Fortune and Roberta Klugman. The fellowship was established last year and Novella Carpenter was its first recipient.

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...