And the award goes to…

The 2009 James Beard Foundation Awards for Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists was announced this week.  These awards are quite possibly, aside from the coveted Michelin Stars (, the most important awards a restaurant or chef can receive.

 If you aren’t familiar with these “Oscars” of the culinary world, allow me to give you a short description.  James Beard was a forefather of American Cuisine.  He is regarded by many as the father of American gastronomy as well as the chef that brought French cuisine to the American middle and upper class in the 1950’s.  His life was filled with the highest of regard for culinary education and his legacy continues on with the James Beard Foundation, which provides scholarships and celebrates American cuisine.

 So, with that being said, I look forward to this list of nominees year after year.  It is thrilling to see the Chicago chefs and restaurateurs that are listed and I would like to mention those listed this year.  Congratulations!

·     Outstanding Restaurateur  Richard Melman, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises. 

·     Outstanding Chef  Jean Joho, Everest.

·     Outstanding Chef  Paul Kahan, Blackbird.

·     Outstanding Restaurant  Everest.

·     Outstanding Restaurant  Blackbird.

·     Best New Restaurant  L2O.

·     Best Pastry Chef  Jimmy MacMillan, Avenues at the Peninsula.

·     Best Pastry Chef  Mindy Segal, Hot Chocolate.

·     Outstanding Wine Service  Avenues at the Peninsula.

·     Outstanding Wine Service  Bin 36.

·     Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional  Anthony Terlato, Terlato Wine Group (Bannockburn).

·     Outstanding Service  Courtright’s Restaurant (Willow Springs).

·     Outstanding Service  Spiaggia.

·     Best Chef: Great Lakes  Suzy Crofton, Crofton on Wells.

·     Best Chef: Great Lakes  Christophe David, Nomi at Park Hyatt.

·     Best Chef: Great Lakes Curtis Duffy, Avenues at the Peninsula.

·     Best Chef: Great Lakes Kendal Duque, Sepia.

·     Best Chef: Great Lakes Koren Grieveson, Avec.

·     Best Chef: Great Lakes Michael Maddox, Le Titi De Paris (Arlington Hgts.).

·     Best Chef: Great Lakes Martial Noguier, Café des Architectes at Sofitel

·     Best Chef: Great Lakes Arun Sampanthavivat, Arun’s.

·     Best Chef: Great Lakes Bruce Sherman, North Pond.

·     Best Chef: Great Lakes Giuseppe Tentori, Boka.

·     Best Chef: Great Lakes Paul Virant, Vie (Western Springs).

**You may find more award listings at**


Congratulations to all Chicago chefs and restaurateurs for being nominated for these prestigious awards.

I hope you all enjoy reading the names of these fabulous chefs and restaurants.  I love when this list is released as I get excited (and make some sort of squeak of excitement!) to read which restaurants I have been to as well as which restaurants I have not tried but now know I should!  Enjoy and happy eating….