Chicago hosts 2018 James Beard Awards

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Fat Rice won Best Restaurant - Great Lakes Region at the James Beard Awards Monday night. (WLS)

The 2018 James Beard Awards are Monday night in Chicago, where awards were handed out to the country's best restaurants and chefs.

Some of Chicago's culinary finest were among the nominees for this year's awards.

Fat Rice won Best Restaurant - Great Lakes Region. Sun-Wah Barbeque in Uptown was honored as one of America's Classics.

The nominees were celebrated earlier Monday.

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The 2018 James Beard Awards are Monday night in Chicago, where awards will be handed out to the country's best restaurants and chefs.


Sushi and champagne for breakfast? Why not. When the Beards are in town, restaurants pull out all the stops, like this morning at NoMi Kitchen, up on the 7th floor of the Park Hyatt.

"Having the awards here has really anchored the whole culinary scene, and has galvanized the broadest reach of the food players in Chicago. There's just such great energy around it," said James Beard Foundation CEO Clare Reichenbach.

Over in the Chicago French Market, Tucson's Visitor's Bureau was handing out free Sonoran hot dogs, courtesy of El Guero Canelo. The restaurant, which is legendary in its hometown, will be honored as one of America's Classics.

The Sonoran hot dog is a bacon-wrapped dog with pinto beans, onions, tomatoes and jalapenos, drizzled with mustard and mayo, served in a Mexican bolillo roll.

"The bun makes a big difference, 'cause it's a fluffier, really great cradle for all these toppings," said Dan Gibson, from Visit Tucson.

"People are willing to try, as long as there isn't ketchup, I've had a lot of people say, there's no ketchup, right? No, we don't even know where the ketchup is," he added.
In the West Loop, the Boka Group hosted its annual lunch for previous winners and nominees at Swift and Sons. The Boka team has four nominations tonight, including Outstanding Service, at Boka, and Restaurateurs of the Year.

"They're looking for restaurants that have breadth, that are detailed and not doing the same thing every time out. Looking for creativity, looking for great chefs," said co-owner Kevin Boehm.

Lee Wolen was nominated for Best Chef of the Great Lakes region for his work at Boka, while Meg Galus was nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef for her work there, as well as at Somerset.

"I've had an amazing opportunity to delve into breakfast pastries and have a lot of fun with, first of all, technique. There's a ton of technique that goes into things like croissants and that's something as a pastry chef I've never really had to do every single day," she said.

"As we mature and get older, I think our tastes change and I think that's one of things about our group, we keep on evolving," said co-owner Rob Katz
Related Topics:
foodawardrestaurantscelebrity chefChicagoWest Loop
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