The Chicago Tribune released its first-ever Dining Awards to celebrate the restaurants and individuals that most impressed the Tribune food staff throughout the year. And, while many other end-of-year dining lists had a lot of predictable results, there were definitely a few (pleasant) surprises here, most of which was the choice for Chef of the Year: Tru's Anthony Martin.
Martin, only 30, took over the kitchen when chef/partner Rick Tramonto departed for New Orleans to open a new place. While Martin had worked in Tru's kitchen for two years as chef de cuisine, Phil Vettel recognizes that he really came into his own in 2010. "Now full credit is going to this master technician, who crafts plates so visually stunning that it seems crude to disturb their perfection for something so prosaic as eating." Vettel also praises Martin by saying, "If any chef in town deserves a bigger spotlight, it's Martin." Think the phones are ringing off the hook at Tru this morning?
But the selection of Martin wasn't the only one to make us stop and say, "nice job." Blackbird's Patrick Fahy took best pastry chef. The Drawing Room's Charles Joly, who was recently named America's best bartender, was honored as the Beverage Professional of the Year. Food truck forerunners and rabble rousers Matt Maroni (Gaztro-Wagon) and Phillip Foss (Meatyballs Mobile) were named Trendsetters of the Year. And Nightwood was given the title of Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year.
In the not-so-surprising-yet-totally-deserving arena, Stephanie Izard's Girl & The Goat was named New Restaurant of the Year. Scott Harris was named Restaurateur of the Year. And Jared Wentworth received yet another honor as Up-and-Coming Chef of the Year, which is no surprise since Longman & Eagle was recognized by everyone from GQ and Esquire to Michelin and even Eater in 2010.
And in a nod of respect that seems to echo many people's shock when it didn't receive any love from Michelin, Les Nomades was named Classic Restaurant of the Year.
· Tribune Dining Awards [Trib]
· You Say You Want a R'evolution [~EChi~]
· Charles Joly Crowned America's Best Bartender [~EChi~]
· Year in Eater [~EChi~]