Well-heeled guests gathered at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 1 to celebrate the 27th James Beard Foundation Awards. Known as “the Oscars” of the food world, the prestigious awards ceremony brings together chefs and food professionals from all over America.
Emmy Award-nominated actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson (best known for his role on Modern Family), hosted the evening, as winners were announced in the Restaurant and Chef and restaurant Design categories. Other special achievement awards, including Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America, Lifetime Achievement, Design Icon, America’s Classics, and Humanitarian of the Year were also presented.
The theme of the night was “Powered by Food,” which celebrates the innovative ways in which technology has influenced and taught us about our connection through food. Guests were encouraged to share on social media throughout the night, and many chefs, including Rick Bayless, spoke about how technology has helped strengthen our connections through food. Whether through a blog post, Instagram share or Facebook like, social media has been a huge asset to the food community.
The night didn’t go without a few laughs, of course, from host Jesse Tyler Ferguson and a video compilation of chefs, like Mario Batali and others, reading “mean tweets” about them (à la Jimmy Kimmel Live!‘s Mean Tweets segment). The night was inspiring, lighthearted and, most importantly, celebrated all of the talented chefs and culinary professionals that are helping to transform the way we think about food.
Representing Chicago was Rick Bayless’ Topolobampo restaurant, winning Outstanding Restaurant, and Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio Chef/Owner Sarah Grueneberg for Best Chef: Great Lakes.
The gala reception concluded the night after the awards ceremony with over 2,000 people in attendance, and consisted of chefs and former James Beard Foundation Award recipients and nominees. Also announced last night was that the James Beard Awards will be hosted in Chicago until 2021, as Chicago is known as one of the most diverse and eclectic food cities in America, as explained by Mayor Rahm Emanuel who spoke briefly during the ceremony.
Congrats, everyone! Visit the James Beard Foundation for the full list of winners and more.
About the James Beard Awards/James Beard Foundation:
The James Beard Awards, established in 1990, recognize culinary professionals for excellence and achievement in their fields. The awards are aimed to further the Foundation’s mission to “celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone,” according to a post-event press release. The James Beard Foundation was founded in 1986. The late James Beard was a champion of American cuisine, as well as an author, teacher, mentor and fabulous chef. The Foundation supports educational initiatives, food industry awards, scholarships for culinary students, chef advocacy training and more.
Photos by Galdones Photography