Hollywood isn't the only place capitalizing on awards season. Chicago had a bunch of winners on Friday when the 14th annual Jean Banchet Awards for Culinary Excellence were announced at a benefit for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. These awards are like the SAG Awards since the winners are chosen by their peers.
There were big winners, but not too many big surprises. Alinea, of course, took home the award for best fine dining. Curtis Duffy, whose restaurant, Avenues, lost best fine dining, took home the prize for best celebrity chef, beating out Graham Elliot, Stephanie Izard and Tony Mantuano. That one was a slight surprise since all three of the "losers" have clocked considerable time on TV, but with his Hollywood A-list looks and mad skills in the kitchen, Duffy is definitely deserving of the prize.
The Bristol took home a couple of awards: Chris Pandel for rising star chef and Amanda Rockman for rising pastry chef. Avec's Koren Grieveson was honored as the best chef de cuisine.
Blackbird's Patrick Fahy grabbed the best pastry chef award; Sixteen's Rachel Lowe was named top sommelier and Kith & Kin moved past its 2010 chef-shuffling drama by taking home the best neighborhood restaurant, beating out Nightwood, Sprout and Prairie Grass Cafe.
· Jean Banchet Award Noms Announced for Culinary Excellence [~EChi~]
Curtis Duffy [Photo: CurtisDuffy.com]