3 Chicago chefs win James Beard Awards

The best in the culinary world are being honored Monday night at the 26th Annual James Beard Awards.

And for the second time, the winners are being announced in Chicago.

This year, there are 14 finalists from Chicago, including five nominees for Best Chef.

The awards started at 6 p.m. inside the Lyric Opera House, but FOX 32 was invited to the party outside the Lyric Opera House where we got to rub shoulders with the likes of Carla Hall and Rachel Ray.

“I love that it gives me yet another reason to come here and I think it’s a fair place to be stationed it's right squarely in the middle,” said Chef Rachel Ray.

And this year, Chicago is home to 14 James Beard nominees, which is up ten from last year.

One of them is Lee Wolen of Boka Chicago.

FOX 32: do you have a speech?

“I don't … I figured if I pre-planned, then it's a negative,” Wolen said.

Two insiders to the awards, Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz, were nominated for outstanding restaurateur.

“I feel excited, electric, this is fun, this is so much fun,” said Boehm and Katz.

And they have a few tricks up their sleeves when it comes to lasting through the sometimes 4-hour award show.

“From Sepia I grabbed a granola bar...look at this! These are the tricks of the James Beard awards it’s not our first time. There's going to be some people in there first time, hungry as heck,” Boehm and Katz said.

And of course these chefs have some Chicago favorites.

“Some of the world’s greatest hot dogs of course to pizza to Topolobampo,” Ray said.

“I would say the hot dog because and I would say that pizza casserole that you call deep dish,” said chef Carla Hall. 

Mayor Rahm Emanuel also hit the Red Carpet Monday night.

“I probably like red meat too much for my doctor but…

FOX 32: I won't tell him...

“How did you know it was a him?” Emanuel said.

Wait, did FOX 32 just get zinged by the mayor?

Anyway, the mayor says welcoming the James Beard Awards into Chicago is an excellent way to showcase our town.

“This is great i's a testament to all the talent we have in the city and our chefs the cuisine they make,” he said. 

The mayor told FOX 32 that the James Beard Awards will be coming back to Chicago next year.

And on Monday night, Chicago had three winners out of 14 nominees!

The award for outstanding restaurant went to Alinea, the ingenious creation of award-winning chef Grant Achatz and his partner Nick Kokonas.

Chef Curtis Duffy was awarded best chef, Great Lakes region, for his culinary genius at Grace.

The award for best restaurant design or renovation (76 seats and over) went to the Cherry Circle Room and the design team at Mode Carpentry, Land and Sea Dept. (Robert McAdams, Jon Martin, Peter Toalson, and Cody Hudson).

The winners of the 2016 James Beard Foundation restaurant and chef awards announced Monday are:



— Best New Restaurant

Shaya in New Orleans

— Outstanding Baker

Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery + Cafe in Boston

— Outstanding Bar Program

Maison Premiere in Brooklyn, New York

— Outstanding Chef

Suzanne Goin of Lucques in Los Angeles

— Outstanding Pastry Chef

Dahlia Narvaez of Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles

— Outstanding Restaurant

Alinea in Chicago

— Outstanding Restaurateur

Ken Friedman of The Spotted Pig, The Breslin and Tosca Cafe in New York

— Outstanding Service

Eleven Madison Park in New York

— Outstanding Wine Program

Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa, Florida

— Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional

Ron Cooper of Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal in Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico

— Rising Star Chef of the Year

Daniela Soto-Innes of Cosme in New York



— 75 Seats and Under


Firm: Demian Repucci Design

Designer: Demian Repucci

Project: Bruno, New York


Firm: Renzo Piano Building Workshop

Designers: Renzo Piano Building Workshops in collaboration with Cooper Robertson and Bentel and Bentel

Project: Untitled, New York

— 76 Seats and Over

Design Firm: Land and Sea Dept.

Designers: Mode Carpentry, Land and Sea Dept. (Robert McAdams, Jon Martin, Peter Toalson and Cody Hudson)

Project: Cherry Circle Room, Chicago



—Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH)

Curtis Duffy, Grace, Chicago

—Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (D.C., DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA)

Aaron Silverman, Rose's Luxury, Washington D.C.

—Best Chef: Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI)

Paul Berglund, The Bachelor Farmer, Minneapolis

—Best Chef: New York City (Five Boroughs)

Jonathan Waxman, Barbuto

—Best Chef: Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, NY STATE, RI, VT)

Zak Pelaccio, Fish & Game, Hudson, New York

—Best Chef: Northwest (AK, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY)

Renee Erickson, The Whale Wins, Seattle

—Best Chef: South (AL, AR, FL, LA, MS, PR)

Justin Devillier, La Petite Grocery, New Orleans

—Best Chef: Southeast (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV)

Tandy Wilson, City House, Nashville

—Best Chef: Southwest (AZ, CO, NM, OK, TX, UT)

Justin Yu, Oxheart, Houston

—Best Chef: West (CA, HI, NV)

Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, Animal, Los Angeles


America's Classics

—Al Ameer Restaurant, Dearborn, Michigan

Owners: Khalil Ammar and Zaki Hashem

—Brooks' House of BBQ, Oneonta, New York

Owners: Beth and Ryan Brooks

—Bully's Restaurant, Jackson, Mississippi

Owners: Greta Brown Bully and Tyrone Bully

—Matt's Place Drive-In, Butte, Montana

Owners: Robin and Brad Cockhill

—Rancho de Chimayó Restaurante, Chimayo, New Mexico

Owner: Florence Jaramillo


Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America

—Gina Gallo

Winemaker of Sonoma, California

—Jim Lahey

Baker and proprietor of New York

—Ed Levine

Author and founder of Serious Eats in New York

—Temple Grandin

Author and animal rights activist of Fort Collins, Colorado

—Marcus Samuelsson

Chef and restaurateur of New York


Humanitarian of the Year

Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles


Lifetime Achievement Award

Leah Chase of Dooky Chase's Restaurant in New Orleans