Calling All Foodies: Nominate Your Favorites for Beard Awards

By Patty Wetli | Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The James Beard Award.

Deep dish pizza. Italian beef sandwiches. If you didn’t live here, that’s all you’d think Chicagoans ate. We know better.

The city boasts an incredibly diverse cuisine, amazing chefs and top-drawer restaurants. If you have a favorite that you’d like to see earn some well-deserved national attention, here’s your chance: nominate them for a James Beard Award.

The Beard Awards, established in 1990, are the highest honor for food and beverage professionals in North America. New York and California tend to dominate the various categories—it’s time to make sure our hometown culinary heroes receive their due.

Members of the general public are encouraged to submit nominees in as many as 19 categories. According to the rules and regulations, you can enter the same chef or restaurant in more than one category, but not more than once for the same award. Clearly, the Beard Foundation frowns upon ballot stuffing, aka, “vote early, vote often.” Past winners from 2005 to 2009 are ineligible in the same category (Beard must be unfamiliar with the concept of “mayor for life”), so that knocks out Tru, Alinea and Frontera Grill. Think outside the Top Chef box.

Categories include:

  • Best Chef, by region—note, Illinois is listed under “Great Lakes,” not “Midwest.” Chicago chefs have grabbed this honor three of the past four years, including 2010 recipient Koren Grieveson of Avec.
  • Outstanding Chef, Rising Star Chef, Outstanding Service.
  • Outstanding Pastry Chef—New York has a lock on this award. C’mon, downtown Chicago smells like chocolate, there’s no excuse not to bring home a winner here.
  • America’s Classics—read: restaurant doesn’t necessarily have tablecloths. Or silverware. This is a great opportunity to show some love for your favorite neighborhood hangout that serves quality food minus the side of pretentiousness.

Nominations are due by Dec. 31, 11:59 p.m. Winners will be announced May 9, 2011.

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