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One Off Hospitality's Donnie Madia's Win Highlights Chicago's First Beard Awards

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Chicago takes home four awards, as One Off also wins Outstanding Bar Program for Violet Hour and Brindille wins for design.

The Violet Hour
The Violet Hour
Eater Chicago
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

One Off Hospitality led the way Monday night during the James Beard Foundation Awards at the Lyric Opera, as Donnie Madia won Outstanding Restaurateur, while The Violet Hour took home won the award for Outstanding Bar Program. Chicago nominees took home four awards at Chicago's first Beard awards and the first held outside of New York City in its 25 years.

A visibly moved and thankful Madia stood on the podium and shared One Off's credit, as the group is responsible for Blackbird, Big Star and Publican, among others. "There's seven of us, just not one," he said.

Madia's win was the second for One Off Hospitality, as The Violet Hour won for Outstanding Bar Program. Paul Kahan lauded his staff, including Blackbird pastry chef Dana Cree who didn't win, and said the award was for them.

"I cannot be more proud for what you've accomplished," Kahan said. "Thank you and cheers."

Meanwhile, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises founder Rich Melman drew a large ovation for receiving the Beard's Lifetime Achievement Award. Melman's family presented him with the award. Melman, like Madia, shared the credit.

"The star of the team is the team, it's not me, it's not them," he said.

Rich Melman

Photo by Isabelli Media Relations/Facebook

The Bureau of Architecture and Design also took home for Outstanding Restaurant Design for 75 Seats and Under for Brindille. That's James Gorski and Tom Nahabedian's firm. Yes, Nahabedian, as in Carrie and Michael, who also designed Naha.

The biggest surprise may have come in the Best Chef: Great Lakes award, as Cleveland's Jonathon Sawyer won, beating out four nominees that all represented Chicago. The field consisted of Sawyer, Curtis Duffy (Grace), Erling Wu-Bower (Nico Osteria), Andrew Zimmerman (Sepia) and Paul Virant (Vie).

Hearty congrats to all the nominees and winners (see the full list at Eater National). Welcome to Chicago, James Beard Awards—see you again next year.


534 North Clark Street, , IL 60654 (312) 595-1616 Visit Website

Lyric Opera

20 N Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60606 312 332 2244 Visit Website

The Violet Hour

1520 North Damen Avenue, , IL 60622 (773) 252-1500 Visit Website