Spiaggia has Obamas’ vote, but what about Beard?

President-elect Obama and Michelle Obama walk out of Spiaggia restaurant after having dinner Nov. 8 in Chicago. (AP file)

One of President Obamas favorite places to eat and the chef of three popular restaurants are among the Chicago nominees for the prestigious James Beard Awards, announced yesterday in Chicago (the first year the awards were announced here).

Spiaggia chef Tony Mantuanos upscale North Michigan Avenue restaurant is in the running for outstanding service in the Beard Awards, the restaurant industrys top honors, named for the late food writer. Spiaggia is a favorite of the president and first lady.

Also nominated for Beard Awards from Chicago:

Chef Paul Kahan of Blackbird, Avec and the Publican is up for outstanding chef.

Mindy Segal of Bucktowns Hot Chocolate for outstanding pastry chef.

Rich Melman of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, the popular restaurant chain, for outstanding restaurateur.

Bin 36 for outstanding wine service.

The Publican for best restaurant design and graphics.

And Alinea the first cookbook by chef Grant Achatz, not his restaurant nominated in a cookbook category.

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