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Mariani Predicts the Beards: Picks Izard, Kahan, Beran; Predictably Disses Grant Achatz

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Esquire food writer John Mariani takes a crack at predicting the winners of the 2012 James Beard Awards. And in doing so takes a requisite crack at Grant Achatz, who he less-than-subtly seems to dislike. A lot. Mariani is not one to shy away from speaking his mind, and in making his predictions speaks it loud and clear.

For the best new restaurant category, he said, "One might put money on Next in Chicago, but since it's so impossible to get into (remember, voters have to swear they ate at their chosen restaurants), it might not have enough votes." That was the nice thing, but for rising star chef, he slights Dave Beran because of his association with Achatz. "Solely because of media attention as an extension of the Grant Achatz PR machine," he writes, "Dave Beran will probably take this category, which is pretty weak."

Based on her Top Chef fame and huge popularity of Girl & The Goat, Mariani said Stephanie Izard will likely take the Best Chef, Great Lakes. "It's her chance to win." But also said that Schwa's Michael Carlson may take it. He "has a chance to pull ahead because it might seem his due, but far fewer voters would have eaten at Schwa."

Last, while Mariani personally feels it's San Francisco chef Gary Danko's turn to win Outstanding Chef, he thinks it may go to Paul Kahan, but said, "I think it will be Kahan's year, even if his influence outside Chicago is slight." Guess we'll find out all the results on Monday, Mariani snark aside.
· The James Beard Awards: The Predictions [Esquire]

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