Affectionately known as the “Oscars of the culinary world,” the 2016 James Beard Awards were bestowed Monday night in a black-tie ceremony at the Civic Opera House, with awards going to two critically acclaimed Chicago restaurants and one of the city’s most celebrated chefs.
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.
In accepting the award for his uber-tony eatery, Achatz thanked his partner/co-owner Nick Kokonas, and the team at Alinea (some of which were present with him on stage) for “taking the risk to innovate,” and Chicago for “your support for the past 11 years.” Achatz has won three James Beard Awards over the course of six years, including Rising Star Chef of the Year, Best Chef: Great Lakes, and Outstanding Chef. This is the first win for the three Michelin-starred restaurant itself. Alinea closed on New Year’s Day 2016 to undergo a massive interior renovation and concept reboot and is tentatively scheduled to reopen at the end of the month.
Duffy was accompanied by his daughters Ava, 10, and Eden, 7, who gushed that “they knew their dad would win.” When asked for their favorite dishes prepared by their award-winning Dad, Ava replied, “french toast!,” while her sister smiled and said “pancakes.”
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).
Duffy, who was previously nominated in 2011 and 2014, was in good company for his category, which included other notable Chicago chef nominees Abraham Conlon (Fat Rice), Lee Wolen (Boka), Erling Wu-Bower (Nico Osteria), and Andrew Zimmerman (Sepia).
The awards ceremony, held for the second year in a row in Chicago, was hosted by TV personality/chef Carla Hall.
In addition to the restaurant/chef categories, the following special achievement awards also were presented:
• JBF Lifetime Achievement Award, to Leah Chase of Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, New Orleans
• JBF Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America, presented to California winemaker Gina Gallo; New York City baker-proprietor James Lahey; author and founder of Serious Eats Ed Levine; Colorado author and animal rights activist Dr. Temple Grandin, and chef-restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson
• JBF Humanitarian of the Year, to Father Greg Boyle, Homeboy Industries
Accepting her award to a standing ovation, the 93-year-old Chase mused “I don’t know how I got here, but this gives me courage to keep going … for 10, 12 more years,” Her restaurant, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, was notable for its role during the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. A video packaged detailed how Civil Rights activists including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Thurgood Marshall dined at the restaurant, which became a meeting place during the movement’s most turbulent times.
GalleryHere’s the list of the 2016 James Beard Award winners presented May 2, 2016 in Chicago:
Outstanding Restaurant: Alinea, Chicago
Outstanding Chef: Suzanne Goin, Lucques, Los Angeles
Rising Star Chef of the Year: Daniela Soto-Innes, Cosme, NYC
Best New Restaurant: Shaya, New Orleans
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, NY
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
Outstanding Baker: Joanne Chang, Flour Bakery + Café, Boston
Outstanding Pastry Chef: Dahlia Narvaez, Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles
Outstanding Bar Program: Maison Premiere, Brooklyn, NY
Outstanding Wine Program: Bern’s Steakhouse, Tampa, FL
Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional: Ron Cooper, Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal, Ranchos de Taos, NM
Outstanding Restaurateur: Ken Friedman, The Spotted Pig, The Breslin, Tosca Café, NYC
Outstanding Service: Eleven Madison Park, NYC
2016 James Beard Foundation America’s Classics::
— Al Ameer Restaurant, Dearborn, MI; Owners: Khalil Ammar and Zaki Hashem
— Brooks’ House of BBQ, Oneonta, NY; Owners: Beth and Ryan Brooks
— Bully’s Restaurant, Jackson, MS; Owners: Greta Brown Bully and Tyrone Bully
— Matt’s Place Drive-In, Butte, MT; Owners: Robin and Brad Cockhill
— Rancho de Chimayó Restaurante, Chimayo, NM; Owner: Florence Jaramillo
2016 James Beard Foundation Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America Inductees:
— Gina Gallo, Winemaker, Sonoma, CA
— Jim Lahey, Baker and Proprietor, NYC
— Ed Levine, Author and Founder of Serious Eats, NYC
— Dr. Temple Grandin, Author and Animal Rights Activist, Fort Collins, CO
— Marcus Samuelsson, Chef and Restaurateur, NYC
2016 James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year:
Father Greg Boyle, Homeboy Industries, Los Angeles
2016 James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award:
Leah Chase, Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, New Orleans
2016 James Beard Foundation Outstanding Restaurant Design Awards:
75 Seats and Under: (TIE)
Firm: Demian Repucci Design
Designer: Demian Repucci
Project: Bruno, NYC
Firm: Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Designers: Renzo Piano Building Workshop in Collaboration with Cooper Robertson and Bentel & Bentel
Project: Untitled, NYC
76 Seats and Over
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
For more on the awards, visit www.jamesbeard.org/awards