Alinea wins outstanding restaurant in James Beard Awards – Chicago Tribune

For the second year in a row, Chicago played host to the food world’s biggest names at the James Beard Foundation Awards. Returning to the Civic Opera House, the black tie gala feted the country’s top chefs and restaurant talent, including a number of Chicagoans. Fourteen Chicago chefs and restaurants numbered among the nominees, but only three took home medals. 

The city’s biggest win came in the form of outstanding restaurant, awarded to Alinea. Chef Grant Achatz accepted the award, thanking his team for trusting his leadership and for “channeling the spirit of the restaurant” to innovate Alinea, which is currently closed amid a remodel, though it is slated to reopen in a few weeks. 

Curtis Duffy, of Grace, took home the prize for best chef Great Lakes. Accompanied by his young daughters, Duffy, when asked how they planned to celebrate, said, “We’re going to hit the town.” 

Lastly, Cody Hudson, Robert McAdams, Jon Martin and Peter Toalson of Land and Sea Dept. were recognized for their work on Cherry Circle Room in the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, netting the award for outstanding design for restaurants with 76 seats or more.

Hosted by celebrity chef Carla Hall, the evening’s theme centered on TV and food’s relationship over the years, looking back at Julia Child, Jacques Pepin and even sit-coms, to modern food television inspiring and teaching home chefs. A number of high-profile chefs presented the awards, such as Rachael Ray, Andrew Zimmern and Curtis Stone, while Mayor Rahm Emanuel congratulated the city’s chefs for their community contributions. 

A highlight of the evening was culinary legend Leah Chase accepting this year’s Lifetime Achievement award. “This gives me courage to keep going for about 10, 12 more years,” said the 93-year-old proprietor of Dooky Chase in New Orleans. “I’ll be in that kitchen.”

In the the non-regional categories, New York mostly swept the field, though there were surprises. Daniela Soto-Innes of Cosme was awarded rising star chef, while Eleven Madison Park won for outstanding service, beating out two nominated Chicago restaurants (North Pond and Topolobampo). This year’s top prize, outstanding chef, was awarded to Suzanne Goin of Lucques in Los Angeles. Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz of Boka Group were nominated for the  outstanding restaurateur award but were beat out by Ken Friedman (The Spotted Pig, The Breslin, Tosca Cafe).

For a complete list of winners, click here. The awards will return to Chicago next year.

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