James Beard Foundation representatives revealed the 2014 James Beard Award finalists in front of a packed house at The Publican this morning. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and One Off Hospitality partner Donnie Madia also spoke at the event at One Off Hospitality's Fulton Market home turf.
Donnie Madia (One Off Hospitality), Spiaggia, David Posey (Blackbird) and Jimmy Bannos Jr. (The Purple Pig) were among the locals honored, for Outstanding Restaurateur, Outstanding Restaurant, and Rising Star Chef of the Year, respectively. Dana Cree (Blackbird) is a finalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef and The Violet Hour for Outstanding Bar Program.
Four local chefs are finalists for Best Chef Great Lakes: Dave Beran (Next), Curtis Duffy (Grace), Paul Virant (Vie), and Andrew Zimmerman (Sepia). Topolobampo is again a finalist for Outstanding Service, while the design team behind Grace (Design Firm: Lawton Stanley Architects; Designers: Maria Contreras, Christopher Lawton, and Micah Stanley) is a finalist for Best Restaurant Design, 75 seats and under. Eater National is a finalist in the Group Food Blog category.
Rousing applause filled the room every time a Chicago person or restaurant was named, adding to an event that felt like a Chicago culinary celebration. Emanuel kicked the event off by speaking about Charlie Trotter, Chicago tourism, and "raising culinary experience to an artform."