Now for those of you who don't know, the James Beard Awards are a BIG deal. They've been called "The Oscars of the food world," by Time magazine. They are named after one of the biggest names in American culinary history, Mr. James Beard. Mr. Beard was born in Portland, Oregon, in 1903. His mother ran a boarding house and began an 81 year culinary journey into American food. He was dubbed "dean of American cookery," by the New York Times.
Now let's get to our Chicago nominees:
- Outstanding Restauranteur: Donald J. Madia (Avec, Big Star, Blackbird, The Publican, The Violet Hour) and Richard Melman (LEYE).
- Outstanding Chef: Jean Joho (Everest) and Paul Kahan (Blackbird)
- Outstanding Restaurant: Les Nomades and Spiaggia
- Best New Restaurant: Cibo Matto at the Wit and Pelago at Raffaello Hotel
- Outstanding Pastry Chef: Mindy Segal (Hot Chocolate)
- Outstanding Wine Service: Alinea and NoMI at Park Hyatt
- Outstanding Wine and Spirit Professional: Brian Duncan (BIN36) and Alpana Singh (LEYE)
- Outstanding Service: Alinea and Spiaggia
- Best Chef, Great Lakes: Michael Carlson (Schwa), Curtis Duffy (Avenues at Peninsula), Koren Grieveson (Avec), Bill Kim (Urbanbelly), Chris Nugent (Les Nomades), Arun Sampanthavivat (Arun's), Bruce Sherman (North Pond) and Giuseppe Tentori (Boka)
The finalists will be announced on March 22nd at the Palace Cafe in New Orleans leading up to the Media Awards presented May 2nd and the James Beard Foundation Awards given out on May 3rd. Good luck to all Chicago Semifinalists!