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12 Chicago restaurants, chefs among 2016 James Beard finalists

Curtis Duffy of Grace, is among the five Chicago chefs nominated for a 2016 James Beard Award in the category of 'Best Chef Great Lakes." | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

They’re affectionately referred to as the “Oscars of the culinary world,” and today, twelve of Chicago’s finest in the business were named finalists for the 2016 James Beard Awards.

The biggest (and most welcome) recognition came in the category of “best chef Great Lakes,” in which Chicago made a clean sweep with all five finalist nominations going to award-winning toques in our fair city. They include:

Abraham Conlon (Fat Rice)

Curtis Duffy (Grace)

Lee Wolen (Boka)

Erling Wu-Bower (Nico Osteria)

Andrew Zimmerman (Sepia)

The rest of the Chicago nominees include:

Outstanding Restaurant: Alinea

Rising Star Chef of the Year: Jenner Tomaska (Next)

Outstanding Pastry Chef: Meg Galus (Boka)

Outstanding Restaurateur: Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz (Boka Restaurant Group)

Outstanding Service: North Pond; Topolobampo

Outstanding Wine Program: Sepia

The winners will be announced at a gala awards ceremony May 2 at the Civic Opera House. Tickets for the event go on sale March 22 at