Tonight, chefs, restaurateurs and industry experts from all over the country descended upon the Lyric Opera in Chicago for the James Beard Foundation Awards. Team Chicago entered with a handful of promising finalists, but only one local name walked away with top honors. Fat Rice's Abraham Conlon took home Best Chef: Great Lakes in the Best Chefs in America category. Conlon was a finalist in that category in 2016 and 2017, making this an especially satisfying win. Over the years, his globally inspired Macanese restaurant has expanded to offer brunch, a full-service bakery and a secret cocktail lounge, the Ladies' Room.
Conlon was in good company in the category, which included nods to top Chicago chefs Andrew Brochu (Roister), Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark (Parachute), David and Anna Posey (Elske) and Lee Wolen (Boka). After nabbing several other spots on the list of finalists, we were surprised to see that Boka Restaurant Group didn't take home any wins this year. Chicago's only other triumph was Sun Wah's induction into the James Beard Foundation America's Classics, which was announced in January.
Chicago will continue to host the culinary awards through 2021. Until then, find the complete list of 2018 James Beard Award winners here.