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Automatic for the Diners

I have cried only once at a culinary event: the 2007 James Beard Foundation Awards, when a towering man in a tuxedo and a ruffled shirt bounded onstage, collected the medal that honored his restaurant as an America’s Classic, and opened his mouth. “I want to thank God, R.E.M., and the University of Georgia,” Dexter Weaver said with the booming voice of a preacher. The crowd went wild. All that love for Athens, Georgia, and Weaver’s place overcame me.

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