The Violet Hour, Brindille among 2015 James Beard Award recipients

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America’sculinary elitegathered Monday night inChicago to celebrate the best in restaurants and chefs as the 2015 James Beard Foundation Awards were presented at the Civic Opera House. It was the first time in 25 years that the gala ceremony was held outside of New York City.

When the evening, hosted by James Beard Award-winning celebrity chef and author Alton Brown, was over, Chicago’s winners included Brindille restaurant, the chic Parisian-inspired eatery of chef Carrie Nahabedian and her cousin, restaurateur Michael Nahabedian, for Outstanding Restaurant Design (75 seats and under); the ultra-tony The Violet Hour, for Outstanding Bar Program, and Chicago icon Donnie Madia, for Outstanding Restaurateur for his One Off Hospitality Group, the force behind Chicago eateries Blackbird, Avec, the Publican, Big Star, Publican Quality Meats and Nico Osteria.

The emotional Madia thanked his team but neglected to mention his wife and son. In the night’s best save, he returned to the microphone and, amid audience cheers and his own tears, gave them both effusive thanks.

GALLERY: See photos of the guests on the red carpet

The legendary Richard Melmanreceived the 2015 James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award for his iconic Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, representing more than 100restaurants in Chicago (including Hub 51, Mon Ami Gabi, Petterino’s, Antico Posto, Maggiano’s, RPM Steak, among many others) and across the country.

“I don’t drink too much, but tonight I might have a couple drinks,” Melman said in accepting the prize. “I might even get drunk.”

Rich Melman (center), the founder and chairman of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, who earned a lifetime achievement award, walks the red carpet with his family at the 2015 James Beard Foundation Awards at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 4, 20

Rich Melman (center), the founder and chairman of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, who earned a lifetime achievement award, walks the red carpet with his family at the 2015 James Beard Foundation Awards at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 4, 2015. | Ashlee Rezin/For Sun-Times Media

In a hometown upset, the four Chicago chefsnominated in the Best Chefs/Great Lakes Region category —Curtis Duffy (Grace), Paul Virant (Vie), Erling Wu-Bower (Nico Osteria) and Andrew Zimmerman (Sepia) — lost to Jonathon Sawyer of the Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland. In the best new restaurant category, Chicago’sKorean-American gemParachute was among the nominees who lost out to New York City’s critically acclaimed Batard.

Other winnersMonday night included: Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern (New York City) for outstanding chef; the Blue Hill at Stone Barns (Pocantico Hills, New York) for outstanding restaurant; Christina Tosi of Momofuku (New York City) for outstanding pastry chef; and Jessica Largey of Manresa (Los Gatos, California) for rising star chef.

In welcoming the awardsto Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel thanked the foundation“for picking the most American of American cities.”

The evening’s entertainment featured acclaimed blues artist Shemekia Copeland and Alton Brown accompanied by the Edible Inevitable Trio. Presenters at the so-called Academy Awards of foodincluded “Chicago Fire” actor David Eigenberg, who joked, “This is the closest I’ll ever get to an Academy Award.”

The gala’s co-chairs, Chicago’s critically acclaimed chefs and Michelin star and James Beard Award winners Grant Achatz (Alinea, Next), Rick Bayless(Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, XOCO) and Paul Kahan (Blackbird, Avec), helped to create a reception menu in honor of the 25th anniversary of the awards, which boasted nearly 2,000 guests.

On April 24, the James Beard Awards for Book, Broadcast and Journalism were announced at a ceremony in New York City, where Bayless and Chicago’s Steve Dolinsky (“The Hungry Hound”) received the award for best podcast for “The Feed Podcast” at soundcloud.com/thefeedpodcast .

Here is the complete list of 2015 James Beard Foundation Award winners:

OUTSTANDING RESTAURANT DESIGN AWARDS(For the best restaurant design or renovation in North America since January 1, 2012)

75 Seats and Under

Design Firm: Bureau of Architecture and Design

Designers: Tom Nahabedian and James Gorski

Project: Brindille, Chicago

76 Seats and Over

Design Firm: SOMA

Designers: Michel Abboud

Project: Workshop Kitchen + Bar, Palm Springs, California

JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION RESTAURANT AND CHEF AWARDS

Best New Restaurant

Bâtard, New York, New York

Outstanding Baker

Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery; New York, New York

Outstanding Bar Program

The Violet Hour, Chicago

Outstanding Chef

(For a working chef in America whose career has set national industry standards and who has served as an inspiration to other food professionals. Candidates must have been working as chefs for at least the past 5 years.)

Michael Anthony, Gramercy Tavern; New York, New York

Outstanding Pastry Chef

(For a chef or baker who prepares desserts, pastries or breads and who serves as a standard-bearer for excellence. Candidates must have been pastry chefs or bakers for at least the past 5 years.)

Christina Tosi, Momofuku; New York, New York

Outstanding Restaurant

(For a restaurant in the United States that serves as a national standard-bearer for consistent quality and excellence in food, atmosphere, and service. Candidates must have been in operation for at least 10 or more consecutive years.)

Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, New York

Chicago’s Donnie Madia received the 2015 James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurateur. | CHICAGO READER PHOTO

Chicago’s Donnie Madia received the 2015 James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurateur. | CHICAGO READER PHOTO

Outstanding Restaurateur

(For 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 been nominated for a James Beard Foundation chef award in the past 10 years.)

Donnie Madia

One Off Hospitality Group (Blackbird, Avec, the Publican, and others), Chicago

Outstanding Service

(For a restaurant that demonstrates high standards of hospitality and service. Candidates must have been in operation for at least the past 5 years.)

The Barn at Blackberry Farm; Walland, Tennessee

Outstanding Wine Program

A16; San Francisco

Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional

Rajat Parr, Mina Group; San Francisco

Rising Star Chef of the Year

(For a chef age 30 or younger who displays an impressive talent and who is likely to have a significant impact on the industry in years to come.)

Jessica Largey, Manresa; Los Gatos, California

BEST CHEFS IN AMERICA

(For chefs who have set new or consistent standards of excellence in their respective regions. Each candidate may be employed by any kind of dining establishment and must have been a working chef for at least the past five years. The three most recent years must have been spent in the region where the chef is presently working.)

Steve Dolinsky (left) and Rick Bayless received the James Beard Award for best podcast on April 24 in New York City. |Photo by Ken Goodman

Steve Dolinsky (left) and Rick Bayless received the James Beard Award for best podcast on April 24 in New York City. |Photo by Ken Goodman

Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH)

Jonathon Sawyer, Greenhouse Tavern; Cleveland

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (D.C., DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA)

Spike Gjerde, Woodberry Kitchen; Baltimore

Best Chef: Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, ND, NE, SD, WI)

Gerard Craft, Niche; Clayton, Missouri

Best Chef: New York City (Five Boroughs)

Mark Ladner, Del Posto

Best Chef: Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, NY state, RI, VT)

Barry Maiden, Hungry Mother; Cambridge, Massachusetts

Best Chef: Northwest (AK, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY)

Blaine Wetzel, The Willows Inn on Lummi Island; Lummi Island, Washington

Best Chef: South (AL, AR, FL, LA, MS, PR)

Alon Shaya, Domenica; New Orleans

Best Chef: Southeast (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV)

Jason Stanhope, FIG; Charleston, South Carolina

Best Chef: Southwest (AZ, CO, NM, OK, TX, UT)

Aaron Franklin, Franklin Barbecue; Austin, Texas

Best Chef: West (CA, HI, NV)

Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski, State Bird Provisions; San Francisco

2015 James Beard Foundation America’s Classics

Archie’s Waeside, Le Mars, Iowa. Owner: Robert Rand

Beaumont Inn, Harrodsburg, Kentucky.Owners: Elizabeth and Dixon Dedman, Helen and Chuck Dedman

Guelaguetza, Los Angeles. Owners: the Lopez Family

Sally Bell’s Kitchen, Richmond, Virginia. Owners: Martha Crowe Jones and Scott Jones

Sevilla Restaurant, New York. Owners: Jose Lloves and Bienvenido Alvarez

2015 James Beard Foundation Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America

Allan Benton, pork producer and purveyor; Madisonville, Tennessee

Dale DeGroff, mixologist; New York, New York

Wylie Dufresne, chef and restaurateur; New York

Nathalie Dupree, cookbook author and television personality; Charleston, South Carolina

Maricel Presilla, chef, restaurateur and cookbook author; Hoboken, New Jersey

2015 James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year

Michel Nischan, CEO, President and Co-Founder of Wholesome Wave, Westport, Connecticut

Legendary Chicago restaurateur Rich Melman received the James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award Monday night in Chicago. | SUN-TIMES PHOTO

Legendary Chicago restaurateur Rich Melman received the James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award Monday night in Chicago. | SUN-TIMES PHOTO

2015 James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award

Richard Melman, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Chicago

For more information, visit jamesbeard.org.

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