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.
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.