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Rich Melman to receive lifetime achievement award from James Beard Foundation

The James Beard Foundation announced today that Richard Melman, renowned Chicago restaurateur has been named the recipient of the 2015 James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.

According to the James Beard Foundation, “The Lifetime Achievement award is bestowed upon a person in the industry whose lifetime body of work has had a positive and long-lasting impact on the way we eat, cook, and think about food in America.”

In the official announcement release, the foundation notes:

“Richard Melman, founder and chairman of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, a Chicago-based corporation that owns over 100 restaurants nationwide, has dedicated his life to the restaurant business. The two-time James Beard Foundation Award winner spent his early days working in a series of restaurants, including a family-owned establishment. In 1971 he and partner Jerry A. Orzoff opened R.J. Grunts, a hip burger joint that soon became one of the hottest restaurants in Chicago. Melman and Orzoff revolutionized food, presenting it with a sense of humor and creating a fun and youthful vibe, which paved the way for dining out as entertainment, a trend that swept this country in the early 1970s.”

Melman’s Lettuce Entertain You empire boast such eateries as RPM Italian, Big Bowl, Everest, Mon Ami Gabi and Petterino’s, among others.

Also announced today: Michel Nischan, acclaimed leader in the sustainable food movement, has been named the recipient of the 2015 James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year award “given to an individual or organization whose work in the realm of food has improved the lives of others and benefited society at large.”

Both men will be honored at this year’s James Beard Foundation Awards on May 4 at Lyric Opera of Chicago.