Tuesday, May 10, 2011

James Beard Awards 2011 Winners Announced, Richard Melman Outstanding Restaurateur

Winners were announced yesterday at the annual 2011 James Beard Foundation Awards, the nation's most prestigious recognition program honoring professionals in the food and beverage industries.  

Richard Melman, founder and chairman of Chicago's Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises Inc., brought home the James Beard Foundation award for outstanding restaurateur in the nation. Melman, a well known Chicago-based restaurateur whose company owns more than 30 restaurants here and across the country, was the lone local restaurant-related winner out of 10 area nominees.

Michael Gebert and Julia Thiel of the Chicago Reader took home a James Beard Foundation Journalism award winning in the multimedia food feature category for their "Key Ingredient" blog. That category was announced Friday at a lavish dinner exclusive to working media.

Chicago eateries and chefs shutout.

Hopeful Stephanie Izard's Girl & The Goat, a finalist in the best new restaurant category, was beat out by Jean-Georges Vongerichten's ABC Kitchen in New York which focuses on local, organic and seasonal foods.

Paul Kahan (Blackbird, Avec, & others), a 2004 James Beard winner for best chef in the Midwest, lost his bid for outstanding chef to Jose Andres of Minibar in Washington, D.C.

Colleague Patrick Fahy, also of Blackbird, and Mindy Segal of Mindy's HotChocolate, who was also nominated in the same category in 2007, lost the outstanding pastry chef award to  Angela Pinkerton of New York's Eleven Madison Park.

Multi award winner Rick Bayless' Topolobampo lost the outstanding service award to Thomas Keller's Per Se in New York. Bayless won a James Beard award for best chef in the Midwest in 1991 and chef of the year in 1995. He was also named humanitarian of the year in 1998 by the James Beard Foundation.

Four of the five nominees for best chef in the Great Lakes region were from the Chicago area,  Michael Carlson of Schwa, Curtis Duffy of Avenues at the Peninsula Hotel, Bruce Sherman of North Pond and Paul Virant of Vie. The award went to Alex Young of Zingerman's Roadhouse in Ann Arbor, Mich.

 Highlights from this year's list of winners include:

Outstanding Chef: Jose Andres (minibar, Washington, D.C.)
Outstanding Restaurant: Eleven Madison Park (NYC, Owner: Danny Meyer)
Rising Star Chef: Gabriel Rucker (Le Pigeon, Portland, OR)
Best New Restaurant: ABC Kitchen (NYC, Chef/Owner: Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Owner: Phil Suarez)
In addition, special achievement award honorees included:

Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America: Jonathan Gold (Writer, LA Weekly, Los Angeles); Lee Jones (Farmer/ Owner, Chef's Garden, Huron, OH); Charles Phan (Chef/Owner, The Slanted Door, San Francisco, CA); Frank Stitt (Chef/Owner, Highlands Bar and Grill, Birmingham, AL); Nick Valenti (CEO, Patina Restaurant Group, New York, NY)
America's Classics: Chef Vola's (Owners:  Louise Esposito, Michael Esposito, Michael Esposito, Jr., Louis Esposito, Atlantic City, NJ); Crook's Corner (Owner:  Gene Hamer, Chapel Hill, NC); Noriega Restaurant and Hotel (Owners:  Linda Elizalde McCoy and Rochelle Ladd, Bakersfield, CA); Le Veau d'Or (Owner:  Robert Treboux, New York, NY); Watt's Tea Shop (President and CEO:  Sam Watts, Milwaukee, WI)
Lifetime Achievement Award: Kevin Zraly (Wine Educator and Author, Windows on the World Complete Wine Course)
Humanitarian of the Year: FareStart (Founder:  David Lee)

Highlights from the Book, Broadcast and Journalism Awards announced on Friday, May 6, 2011, at the Awards dinner at Espace included:

Cookbook of the Year: Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy by Diana Kennedy (University of Texas Press)
Cookbook Hall of Fame:  On Food and Cooking: The Science & Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee
Publication of the Year: Edible Communities
M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award: Jonathan Gold, LA Weekly, "A Movable Beast"
Audio Webcast or Radio Show:  CBC Ideas: "Pasta: The Long and Short of It" Host: Megan Williams, Area: Canada and Online, Producers: Susan Mahoney and Megan Williams
Television Program, In Studio or Fixed Location: Top Chef: Season 7, Host: Padma Lakshmi, Network: Bravo, Producers: Tom Colicchio, Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz, and Dave Serwatka
Television Program, On Location: Avec Eric, Host: Eric Ripert, Network: PBS, Online Producers: Justin Barocas, Heather Brown, and Geoffrey Drummond
TV Food Personality/Host: Alton Brown, Show: Good Eats, Network: Food Network
Food Section of a General Interest Publication: San Francisco Chronicle, Jon Bonne and Miriam Morgan
Craig Claiborne Distinguished Restaurant Review: Patric Kuh, Los Angeles, "Animal Magnetism," "Making Their Move," "Time for a Redo?"
Group Food Blog: Grub Street New York, Newyork.grubstreet.com, Daniel Maurer, Jenny Miller, and Alan Sytsma
Individual Food Blog: Politics of the Plate, Politicsoftheplate.com, Barry Estabrook

Visit http://www.jamesbeard.org for more information.

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