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The James Beard Awards, one of the food industry's biggest recognitions in America, have been announced in a ceremony in Chicago. Chicago had two winners out of five nominees.
In recent years, the James Beard Foundation has tried to introduce more geographic diversity, efforts which seem to be making their mark. None of the nominees for the prestigious Outstanding Restaurant award this year came from the culinary meccas of Chicago, New York City, or California, while Detroit chefs made up a majority of nominees in the Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH) category, which always used to be dominated by Chicagoans, although a Chicagoan once again won out. Last year, the increasingly omnipresent Erick Williams of Virtue was the only Chicagoan to win a James Beard Award, out of nine nominees. (He presented Best Chef: Great Lakes this year.)
Damarr Brown, Virtue - Damarr Brown, a near-winner of Top Chef last year, has won Emerging Chef. His win gives Virtue in Hyde Park, where he is chef de cuisine, a two-year streak of Beard Awards: Erick Williams, Virtue's owner, won Best Chef: Great Lakes last year. He shared his story and a recipe for jambalaya with us.
Best Chef: Great Lakes
Tim Flores and Genie Kwon, Kasama - This Filipino restaurant and bakery now has another plaudit to add to its long list of acclaim. While Kasama didn't win Best New Restaurant last year, now it has a Beard Award in another category. Genie Kwon's pastries and her husband Tim Flores' dishes have drawn people to their breakfasts and a tasting menu that explores classic Filipino dishes.
Media awards were announced over the weekend in Chicago in a ceremony hosted by the Beard-winning Pati Jinich of PBS's Pati's Mexican Table, who also presented part of the restaurant awards. Toni Tipton-Martin, the editor in chief of Cook's Country, which is available via WTTW and PBS, had her and Joe Randall's cookbook A Taste of Heritage: The New African-American Cuisine inducted into the "Cookbook Hall of Fame."