James Beard Awards 2019: Chicago restaurants, chefs take home 4 awards

CHICAGO (WLS) -- For the fifth year in a row, the James Beard Awards were handed out in Chicago and four Chicagoans took home awards.

Greg Wage of Publican Quality Breads won for Best Baker, Pacific Standard Time in River North won for Outstanding Restaurant Design, Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark won for Best Chef: Great Lakes for Parachute, and Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz of Boka Restaurant Group won for Outstanding Restauranteur.

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Four Chicagoans took home James Beard Awards Monday night.

There was a whole day of celebrations before the ceremony at the Lyric Opera House Monday evening.

Monday morning's first reception happened on the seventh floor of the Park Hyatt Hotel, where the James Beard Foundation's CEO reiterated what judges look for in nominees.

"Increasingly, we're ensuring it's not just about the food on the plate, but it's also about leadership. We say that the culture and conduct are as important as the cuisine and the craft," said Clare Reichenbach, CEO of the James Beard Foundation.

Meanwhile at Lost Lake, the James Beard-nominated tiki bar in Logan Square, several nominees came together to do a pop-up for charity.

Jason Hammel opened Lula Cafe 20 years ago in the neighborhood, and Monday night he's nominated for Best Chef, Great Lakes Region.

"Nerve-wracking of course, but I'm very proud for the team and excited to be representing Lula," Hammel said.

David Posey and his wife Anna are nominated in the same category for their West Loop restaurant Elske.

"It's our life, it's our baby. Sixteen hours every single day, I think reality is gonna hit us when we get there. We're surrounded by all of our peers who also work so hard," Anna Posey said.

Lost Lake itself is nominated for best bar in the country.

"Especially for us, we don't have a big budget, we didn't spend a lot of money on the build-out," said Paul McGee, co-founder of Lost Lake.

"Humbling is a word I struggle with a bit because I'm actually not humble, I'm very excited and super proud," said Shelby Allison, co-founder of Lost Lake.

At an annual brunch for previous winners and current nominees, pastry chef Meg Galus reflected on her fourth nomination.

"It's almost hard to accept compliments on getting nominated for this award because I know it's not just my work, it's me and my entire team and everyone who works in our restaurants and everyone who gets food on the table for guests," she said.
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