As we correctly predicted yesterday, Koren Grieveson from Avec took home the Best Chef in America: Great Lakes Award. It was the first win for the restaurant and the chef. Also, continuing it's unbelievable hot streak, Alinea won for Outstanding Service. But the win seemed to be overshadowed a little by the announcement before the awards of Grant Achatz's two new projects, Next and Aviary. Grieveson was the Chicago chef everyone wanted to congratulate last night.
Executive Chef/Partner of Avec, Paul Kahan, was caught between celebrating and acting like a proud father. He unleashed a flurry of tweets right after the win, before reflecting, and kind of taking a quiet moment for himself: "First time ever that someone wearing a jb medal said I was their mentor. Feels pretty great."
Rick Bayless actually presented Grieveson with the award, and he talked with us about what that meant for him after the awards: "You know, I eat her food all the time...It's my daughter's favorite place. There's nothing quite like Avec." Continuing his manic tweeting habit, Bayless announced her win, and even jostled in line to take picture of her, which we were able to catch.
The award was one of only two awards for Chicago area chefs, who got shut out of Outstanding Restaurateur , Outstanding Pastry Chef, and Outstanding Restaurant. Still, on Sunday, local journalists Kevin Pang and Cliff Doerksen both won James Beard Media Awards.
Congrats again to the winners.