The James Beard Foundation Awards, the most prestigious awards in the culinary world, were held last night in Chicago at the Lyric Opera. TV food personality Alton Brown hosted the event (which included a painful song "And the Meat Goes On"). While the event had a few hiccups (there was no sound on the live feed in the media room for the better part of the event, a late start time, a super-long ceremony and a claustrophobic, packed tasting event after the Awards), the event helped shine a light on Chicago's culinary scene, and local people took home four awards.
The Violet Hour won for Outstanding Bar Program, a category it's been nominated in four times. The Bureau of Architecture and Design won for design for restaurants 75 seats and under for Brindille, and One Off Hospitality's Donnie Madia won for Outstanding Restaurateur for Blackbird, Avec, Publican and the other restaurants in the group. Rich Melman of Lettuce Entertain You also took home the honorary 2015 James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.
There were some losses too, as Boarding House's Tanya Baker didn't win Rising Star Chef for chefs under 30, Topolobampo didn't win for Outstanding Service, Parachute didn't win Best New Restaurant and—the big surprise—Cleveland's Jonathon Sawyer (Greenhouse Tavern) defeated four great Chicago chefs for Best Chef: Great Lakes. Most will have a chance again next year, when the Beard Awards return to Chicago.