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James Beard Awards draw professional foodies to Chicago

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The nation's top restaurateurs, chefs and wine experts are in town for the James Beard Awards Monday night. (WLS)

The Oscars of the food world have returned to Chicago for the second year in a row.

The nation's top restaurateurs, chefs and sommeliers are in town for the James Beard Awards Monday night.

In Chicago, Alinea won in the Outstanding Restaurant category, the Cherry Circle Room won for best restaurant design, and Curtis Duffy of Grace took home "Best Chef" in the Great Lakes division.
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ABC7's Steve Dolinsky speaks with Nick Kokonas and Grant Achatz of Alinea after winning in the Outstanding Restaurant category.

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ABC7's Steve Dolinsky speaks with the designers behind the Cherry Circle Room.

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ABC7's Steve Dolinsky speaks with Curtis Duffy of Grace, winner of the Best Chef award in the Great Lakes division.

The nominees walked the red carpet at the Civic Opera House Monday night. But over the last 24 hours, champagne-fueled receptions have been the theme around town.

Earlier Monday, the Beard Foundation's president was at the Waldorf bestowing jackets to the chefs cooking at the event named for America's first "celebrity chef."

"He's the first person to be on television telling people how to roast a chicken or make homemade pasta. He also had the first television show, so he was really a pioneer," said Susan Ungaro, James Beard Foundation.

In Lincoln Park, Nick Kokonas and his staff at Alinea recently gutted the building after a decade in business. They're nominated for Best Restaurant in the country.

"In order to get nominated for that award you have to be open for 10 years. And so you're not even eligible until you've not only opened, thrived, innovated but you have to last as well," Kokonas said.

A lunchtime reception at Swift & Sons and Cold Storage in the Google Building in the West Loop featured Lee Wolen's cured fluke with buckwheat and black garlic and Stephanie Izard's shrimp toast garnished with giardiniera.

The duo work for the BOKA Restaurant Group, named for Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz, who are nominated as Outstanding Restaurateurs. They said having six chef-partners is one of their keys to success.

"And I think that's a big part of it. When you sprinkle in incredible design and extraordinary hospitality and service and a lot of hard work and a bit of luck," Katz said.

The winners of the 2016 James Beard Foundation restaurant and chef awards announced Monday are:



- Best New Restaurant

Shaya in New Orleans

- Outstanding Baker

Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery + Cafe in Boston

- Outstanding Bar Program

Maison Premiere in Brooklyn, New York

- Outstanding Chef

Suzanne Goin of Lucques in Los Angeles

- Outstanding Pastry Chef

Dahlia Narvaez of Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles

- Outstanding Restaurant

Alinea in Chicago

- Outstanding Restaurateur

Ken Friedman of The Spotted Pig, The Breslin and Tosca Cafe in New York

- Outstanding Service

Eleven Madison Park in New York

- Outstanding Wine Program

Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa, Florida

- Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional

Ron Cooper of Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal in Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico

- Rising Star Chef of the Year

Daniela Soto-Innes of Cosme in New York



- 75 Seats and Under


Firm: Demian Repucci Design

Designer: Demian Repucci

Project: Bruno, New York


Firm: Renzo Piano Building Workshop

Designers: Renzo Piano Building Workshops in collaboration with Cooper Robertson and Bentel and Bentel

Project: Untitled, New York

- 76 Seats and Over

Design Firm: Land and Sea Dept.

Designers: Mode Carpentry, Land and Sea Dept. (Robert McAdams, Jon Martin, Peter Toalson and Cody Hudson)

Project: Cherry Circle Room, Chicago



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

Curtis Duffy, Grace, Chicago

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

Aaron Silverman, Rose's Luxury, Washington D.C.

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

Paul Berglund, The Bachelor Farmer, Minneapolis

-Best Chef: New York City (Five Boroughs)

Jonathan Waxman, Barbuto

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

Zak Pelaccio, Fish & Game, Hudson, New York

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

Renee Erickson, The Whale Wins, Seattle

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

Justin Devillier, La Petite Grocery, New Orleans

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

Tandy Wilson, City House, Nashville

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

Justin Yu, Oxheart, Houston

-Best Chef: West (CA, HI, NV)

Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, Animal, Los Angeles


America's Classics

-Al Ameer Restaurant, Dearborn, Michigan

Owners: Khalil Ammar and Zaki Hashem

-Brooks' House of BBQ, Oneonta, New York

Owners: Beth and Ryan Brooks

-Bully's Restaurant, Jackson, Mississippi

Owners: Greta Brown Bully and Tyrone Bully

-Matt's Place Drive-In, Butte, Montana

Owners: Robin and Brad Cockhill

-Rancho de Chimay? Restaurante, Chimayo, New Mexico

Owner: Florence Jaramillo


Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America

-Gina Gallo

Winemaker of Sonoma, California

-Jim Lahey

Baker and proprietor of New York

-Ed Levine

Author and founder of Serious Eats in New York

-Temple Grandin

Author and animal rights activist of Fort Collins, Colorado

-Marcus Samuelsson

Chef and restaurateur of New York


Humanitarian of the Year

Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles


Lifetime Achievement Award

Leah Chase of Dooky Chase's Restaurant in New Orleans
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