On Monday night, all eyes were on Chicago as the James Beard Awards commenced at the Lyric Opera in the Loop. The prestigious annual event honors the best chefs, restauranteurs and designers across the country. Think of it as the restaurant industry's Academy Awards. In 2018, Fat Rice chef Abe Conlon was Chicago's lone winner (Best Chef: Great Lakes), but this year, the city has four reasons to celebrate.
Carb extraordinaire Greg Wade of Publican Quality Bread won Outstanding Baker for his top-notch breads, which are featured on menus at some of the best restaurants in Chicago. Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz of Boka Restaurant Group took home an award for Outstanding Restaurateur for their work on beloved Chicago institutions like Boka, Girl & the Goat and Momotaro—just to name a few. The group welcomed Cira, Cabra and Lazy Bird to the fold last month, too. Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark, the husband-and-wife duo behind Korean-steeped Parachute in Avondale, nabbed the title for Best Chefs: Great Lakes. Nominees for the category included Diana Dávila of Mi Tocaya, Jason Hammel of Lula Cafe, Anna and David Posey of Elske, Noah Sandoval of Oriole and Lee Wolen of Boka. Finally, New York-based designers Parts and Labor Design took home an award for Outstanding Restaurant Design (76 seats and over) for their work at River North newcomer Pacific Standard Time. (We're counting it as a win for Chicago—don't @ us.)
Chicago will continue to host the culinary awards through 2027. To find out who else walked away with a medallion, take a look at the complete list of 2019 James Beard Award winners here.