The James Beard Foundation today announced the list of its 2015 chef and restaurant semifinalists. The semifinalists were selected from more than 34,000 entries. The finalists will be announced on March 24, with the winners announced on May 4 at a gala banquet/awards ceremony at Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Below are the categories and Chicago’s semifinalists. For the full list of categories and nominees, visit jamesbeard.org/awards
BEST NEW RESTAURANT
A restaurant opened in the calendar year before the award will be given that already displays excellence in food, beverage, and service, and that is likely to make a significant impact in years to come.
• 42 Grams, Chicago
• Parachute, Chicago
A restaurant in the United States that serves as a national standard bearer of consistent quality and excellence in food, atmosphere and service. Eligible restaurants must have been in operation 10 or more consecutive years.
• Spiaggia, Chicago
BEST CHEF: GREAT LAKES
• Abraham Conlon, Fat Rice, Chicago
• Curtis Duffy, Grace, Chicago
• Paul Fehribach, Big Jones, Chicago
• Phillip Foss, EL Ideas, Chicago
• Eric Heath, Cleveland-Heath, Edwardsville
• Brian Huston, Boltwood, Evanston
• Thomas Lents, Sixteen, Chicago
• Ryan McCaskey, Acadia, Chicago
• Paul Virant, Vie, Western Springs
• Erling Wu-Bower, Nico Osteria, Chicago
• Andrew Zimmerman, Sepia, Chicago
A working chef in America whose career has set national industry standards and who has served as an inspiration to other food professionals. Eligible candidates must have been working as a chef for the past five years.
• Carrie Nahabedian, Naha, Chicago
RISING STAR CHEF OF THE YEAR
A chef age 30 or younger who displays an impressive talent and who is likely to make a significant impact on the industry in years to come.
• Tanya Baker, Boarding House, Chicago
• Christopher Teixeira, Homestead on the Roof, Chicago
A chef or baker who prepares breads, pastries or desserts in a retail bakery, and who serves as a national standard-bearer of excellence. Must have been a baker or pastry chef for at least five years.
• Judy Contino, Bittersweet Pastry, Chicago
OUTSTANDING BAR PROGRAM
A restaurant or bar that demonstrates excellence in cocktail, spirits and/or beer service.
• The Violet Hour, Chicago
A working restaurateur who sets high national standards in restaurant operations and entrepreneurship. Candidates must have been in the restaurant business for at least 10 years. Candidates must not have won a James Beard Foundation chef award in the past five years.
• Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz, Boka Restaurant Group, Chicago, IL (Boka, Girl & the Goat, GT Fish & Oyster, Momotaro, and others)
• Donnie Madia, One Off Hospitality Group, Chicago, IL (Blackbird, Avec, The Publican, and others)
OUTSTANDING WINE PROGRAM
A restaurant in operation five or more years that serves as a standard bearer for excellence in wine service through a well-presented wine list, knowledgeable staff, and efforts to educate customers about wine.
• Sepia, Chicago
OUTSTANDING WINE, SPIRITS, OR BEER PROFESSIONAL
A beer, wine or spirits professional who has made a significant national impact on the restaurant industry.
• Charles Joly, Crafthouse, Chicago