- The James Beard Awards, one the biggest award ceremonies for the US restaurant industry, took place on Monday in Chicago.
- Before the award ceremony, top chefs, food critics, and other industry insiders gather at panel talks and Chef’s Night Out, a celebration and massive invite-only party.
- The mouth-watering menus from brunch to Chef’s Night Out included seasonal ingredients and innovative combinations, as expected.
Getting a James Beard Award is a major honour for anyone in the restaurant industry – and those who simply enjoy dining out take notice.
This Monday, the James Beard Awards ceremony took place in Chicago. The Foundation recognised Gabrielle Hamilton, who owns the Manhattan restaurant Prune, with the national award for Outstanding Chef. Best New Restaurant was awarded to Edouardo Jordan, who runs Seattle’s JuneBaby.
Events leading up to the main award ceremony include industry panel talks, the Leadership Awards, and Chef’s Night Out – a massive party hosted by the James Beard Foundation that lets top chefs and industry insiders celebrate the night before the major award show.
Hosted at Chicago’s historic Theatre on the Lake, Chef’s Night Out had plenty of delicious dishes – from strawberry and lime-cured salmon to fried mac and cheese.
See below for the full day’s menu.
On Sunday morning, an industry panel was held at Kendall College, Chicago’s culinary school. After the panel, a massive brunch was served which included James Beard award-winning pastry chef Mindy Segal’s soft and chewy bagels — served with a choice of lox, ramp, or plain cream cheese.
This year’s Brunch Panel included chef Amanda Cohen of Dirt Candy, Asha Gomex author of “My Two Souths,” Beverly Kim of Parachute, Sarah Rinkavage of Marisol, and Mindy Segal of Mindy’s Hot Chocolate.
Chef Michael Luth of Marshall’s Landing served pork belly confit on top of a pineapple slice and an ancho chile pancake, with pickled watermelon radish and bourbon maple syrup drizzled on top.
Kendall College’s Nikil Bendre served ceviche.
Attendees also enjoyed a more elegant take on a breakfast classic — sausage with eggs and beans.
But one of the tastiest dishes of the morning was a bowl of grits with a poached egg, pickled strawberry, and other seasonings.
On Sunday night, the James Beard Foundation hosted the industry invite-only event Chef’s Night Out at Chicago’s historic Theatre on the Lake.
Over 1,000 industry insiders — from top chefs to food critics — gathered to eat and drink some of the best food in the country.
Hors d’oeuvres like this beef carpaccio were offered around the event space.
Bao tacos were served with the choice of Kung Pao Carnitas, Orange Chipotle Chicken, Ginger Arrachera Beef, or Anaheim Pepper Tofu.
Toppings for the bao included cilantro, radish, pickled cucumbers, and bean sprouts.
Decedent offerings included fried mac and cheese with sausage and “devil sauce” from Devil Dawgs.
Award-winning Chicago restaurant Ras Dashen served up spicy lamb stew, alongside lentil stew.
Dia De Los Tamales handed out ropa vieja tamales with sofrito sauce, plus mini arepas with chicken, avocado, and spicy mango sauce.
Beef, pepper, and onion mini sandwiches were also passed around the room.
Simple beef and lamb with taziki sauce and tomato on pita was going like hot cakes.
A jambalaya style sausage appetizer with a bold flavour was also readily available.
The chefs from Disneyland Resort cooked up an imaginative appetizer involving strawberry and lime-cured Skuna Bay salmon.
Once cooked, the fish was placed on top of an elote fritter, with extra kernels and strawberries.
Outside, people lined up for the taco truck that was serving pig face tacos with pickled onion, poblano verde, and creamed corn aioli.
Hot dogs doused in relish, pickled pepper, and mustard were served inside cornbread muffin-buns.
Thin slices of beef for the appetizers were prepared on a Himalayan salt block.
And of course, there were plenty of drinks being poured all night.
There was no shortage of wines, liquors, and beers flowing.
Inside, Woodford Reserve Kentucky bourbon was made into a cocktail with aperitif wine, port, lemon, and cherry bitters.
Outside, bartenders served classic Mint Julep’s and a special “Stone Throw Julep,” which included straight rye and apricot liqueur, ginger, and mint.
Italicus Spritz was bubbling inside made with the aromatic and slightly spicy Rosolio di Bergamotto liqueur, and the sparkling wine, Sergura Viudas Cava.
The Palm’s rosé wine, which is a blend of Grenache, Cynsault, and Syrah, was served behind a bright pink bar.
After plenty of appetizers and dishes, it was time for dessert.
The Warm Belly Bakery made a soft ube cookie, paired with leche flan, sweet corn ice cream, and jackfruit, with coconut salt sprinkled on top. A perfect mix of sweet and salty.
Stan’s Doughnuts and Coffee came ready with mini chocolate doughnuts and other sweet pastries.
Easy to eat and addicting “White Russian” truffles were set out by pastry chef Sarah Tibbetts.
And for those who wanted to make their own dessert, a s’mores station was fully stocked outside.
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