Chicago’s first win at The James Beard Awards, going to The Aviary, named Outstanding Bar Program.
We’re in New York, covering all of the Chicago winners; here’s a preview of what to look for later tonight
There have already been more parties, after-parties and cocktail receptions than I can count. The four day-long slog that has become Beard Weekend began on Friday (where Chicago’s Nina Barrett and Mike Sula picked up medallions for their work at WBEZ and The Reader, respectively) and has wound its way through a series of events, including last night’s “Chef’s Night Out” party, which took place in the massive food hall below The Plaza Hotel. Tonight, it’s time for the Chef/Restaurant awards, and there will be 13 Chicagoans paying extra close attention. As always, I’ll be the only Chicago reporter here grabbing on camera interviews with the winners, so be sure to check back here or abc7chicago.com for the details. Here are the folks we’ll be keeping an eye on, with their respective categories of nomination: Read More
TORONTO – David Chang can really rack up the frequent flyer miles. When I caught up with him here during the Terroir Symposium last month, he had just gotten back from visiting his restaurant in Sydney, Australia, and was already planning on flying out to help cook a dinner back in the U.S. later that same day. Chang’s Momofuku group now runs 11 different concepts in three cities, and he’s up for the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef in the U.S. on Monday night. While his Ssäm Bar in New York dropped out of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants earlier this week to #86, Momofuku Seiobo in Sydney came in at #89; Ko at #93. Read More
There’s a new #1 restaurant in the world. After three years at the top of the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” list, Copenhagen’s Noma moved down a spot, to make way for El Celler de Can Roca, in Girona, Spain. The #3 spot is now held by Italy’s Osteria Francescana. Six of the top 50 were from the U.S., including New York City’s 11 Madison Park, which moved up to #5. As chef Daniel Humm put it, “this list is something to strive for.” I spoke with Humm and Alinea’s Grant Achatz, who’s Alinea slipped to #15 on the list, most likely because of several restaurants that were new to the list, from places like Hong Kong, Tokyo and Peru.
Here comes another year of second-guessing. The annual list of “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants” will be announced in London later today (approx. 3/3:30 p.m. Chicago time) and there are bound to be head-scratches. Full disclosure: I’m one of the 26 Academy Chairs for the List, overseeing a group of 35 voters, covering the Mid-USA/Mid-Canada Region. There are more than 930 voters around the world, all of whom vote for seven restaurants – four from within their region, three from anywhere else. Also, those 35 judges are broken up equally into three groups: chefs/restaurateurs, writers/broadcasters and gastronauts/gourmands with the funds to travel and eat. Every year, we have to rotate in 10 new judges, and all of the voting is done online, on a secure site; there is no huddling or organizing of votes. Also, judges must have eaten in the restaurant they vote for at some point in the last 18 months (although this is done on the honor system; we don’t collect dining receipts). That said, I’m sure there will be some questions asked, as there are every year; the list is not perfect. It is simply a jumping-off point for a discussion about which restaurants are currently top-of-mind among those of us who live to eat. The big question: will Copenhagen’s Noma four-peat as #1? Will Alinea move up from last year’s #7 spot? I’ll have the interviews and North American wrap-up right back here later today.