The James Beard Awards finalists have been announced, and Chicago chefs and restaurateurs are a dominant presence. The Awards are named after a titan of twentieth century American cuisine, who is the subject of an American Masters documentary airing on May 19 at 8:00 pm. Often called “The Oscars of Food,” the Awards will be presented at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in a gala on May 1.
Many of the finalists and their restaurants have appeared on WTTW and our website. See interviews, reviews, and recipes from them here.
Outstanding Restaurant – Topolobampo
Topolobampo’s Rick Bayless is a mainstay of WTTW. He has hosted the cooking series Mexico: One Plate at a Time since 2003, regularly appears on Chicago Tonight for conversation and demonstrations, and was a guest on The Interview Show last year.
Outstanding Restaurateur – Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz, Boka Restaurant Group
Boehm and Katz’s empire includes such standouts as Girl & the Goat, Momotaro, and Boka, which was reviewed on Check, Please! in 2008. (Current Boka chef Lee Wolen is a finalist for Best Chef: Great Lakes.) They spoke about the influence of social media on restaurants and the importance of atmosphere when eating out on Chat, Please!, while Girl & the Goat’s Stephanie Izard appeared on The Interview Show in February.
Best Chef: Great Lakes – Abraham Conlon, Fat Rice
Conlon and his partner Adrienne Lo talked about their restaurant’s Macanese cuisine on Chat, Please! and shared a recipe as well as cooking tips with Check, Please! host Catherine De Orio. Fat Rice was also reviewed on Check, Please in January.
Best Chef: Great Lakes – Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark, Parachute
Parachute is one of the hottest restaurants in Chicago right now: Michelin-starred, a 2016 Eater Best Restaurant in America, and now a James Beard nomination for the chefs. Kim and Clark answered Catherine De Orio’s questions about their modern Korean food and their favorite Korean joint in Chicago, and the restaurant was reviewed on Check, Please! in 2015.
Best Chef: Great Lakes – Erling Wu-Bower, Nico Osteria
Wu-Bower appeared on The Interview Show in February with his friend and colleague Cosmo Goss of the Publican. His Gold Coast Italian eatery was reviewed on Check, Please! in 2016.