There were Tweets last night saying Chicago dominated the James Beard Foundation chef awards last night, which is an exaggeration. But even after only winning about half of the categories the city's restaurateurs were nominated in, Chicago's food scene made a major splash at the traditionally somewhat New York-centric honors, not least by winning Best New Restaurant for— what else?— Next. The one that seemed to matter the most to people was that Mindy Segal, after six previous nominations, finally won Best Pastry Chef for her restaurant Hot Chocolate, which is briefly closed for renovations. Segal, who didn't attend the ceremony, tweeted what she was up to instead:
And I was on my way to Joanne fabric! Instead I got the beard award for outstanding pastry chef! Bless you everyone! Tks to my staff!Iluvu!
But just as long in the making was Bruce Sherman's win for Best Great Lakes Chef for North Pond after, likewise, six previous nominations. A key figure in the farm to table movement but a chef who tends to keep his head down, Sherman was certainly the most overdue in a field of four Chicago chefs that included more talked-about figures such as Stephanie Izard and Michael Carlson.
Next won Best New Restaurant, and Grant Achatz was named to the Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America. But Team Achatz lost out in two other categories. Dave Beran was nominated for Rising Star Chef, but that went to Christina Tosi of New York's much-loved dessert spot Momofuku Milk Bar. And The Aviary, as well as The Violet Hour, was nominated for the new award for Outstanding Bar Program, but perhaps justly, the first edition of this award went to one of the pioneers of the cocktail renaissance, New York's PDT. As previously announced, Charlie Trotter was named Humanitarian of the Year for his extensive outreach and charitable work at his namesake restaurant.