Last night, at the Lyric Opera in Chicago, restaurant industry leaders from across the country sat down together for a TV Dinner. A night of celebrating TV and Dinner, that is.
It was the 2016 James Beard Awards Gala, and the theme of the ceremony was inspired by Beard’s 1947 food program on NBC, which was one of the first cooking shows in the country. The event was hosted by Carla Hall, a restaurateur who is no stranger to the kitchen or to the camera: Hall was a competitor on Top Chef and a co-host of ABC’s The Chew. And naturally, the night included some pretty creative eats: former James Beard Foundation Award recipients drew inspiration from television shows to cook up over 2,000 dishes for the attendees.
Since the first award ceremony in 1991, The James Beard Foundation has been bestowing the highest honors in the industry to chefs, restaurateurs, authors, designers, and architects. Think of it as the Oscars, but with better food.
Here are some of our favorite winners for the 2016 James Beard Awards.
Restaurant and Chef Awards
Joanne Chang, Flour Bakery + Café, Boston
When Joanne Chang said goodbye to her career as a management consultant, and instead picked up her rolling pin and a bag of flour in in the mid nineties, the culinary world became a little bit sweeter. Chang was a pastry chef in restaurants throughout the east coast, and eventually opened up Flour in Boston’s South End. After a stop at Flour Bakery + Cafe, we couldn’t help but cheer when Chang won this well-deserved award!
Best New Restaurant
Shaya, New Orleans.
AFAR sat down with chef Alon Shaya just before the restaurant’s big win and talked about the current food scene in New Orleans. “Young chefs are now cooking Chinese food or Caribbean food. And, of course, Shaya is an Israeli restaurant,” Shaya said, “Five years ago that wouldn’t have worked in this city.”
Renee Erickson, The Whale Wins, Seattle
Back in 2013, when chef Sean Eastwood of Navio restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, showed us some of Seattle’s best eats, we fell hard for Renee Erickson’s restaurants. The Whale Wins and The Walrus and the Carpenter are just two of the acclaimed chef's restaurants, all of which speak to the local flavors of the Pacific Northwest.
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