The James Beard Awards brought in culinary luminaries from across the country last night. Held at Chicago's Lyric Opera House, many of them shuffled down to the press room to mingle, drink and revel in the festivities. A few of the many were asked what they felt about the Beards moving from New York to Chicago for, at the very least, the next three years. Below are their responses.
Daniel Boulud: I think to me, as a New Yorker, I always enjoy the Beards in New York. It's always a great weekend. I've thrown many parties myself. I think for Chicago it's exciting, because Chicago is the hub of America. The hub for food, the hub for traveling. You live West Coast, you live South, you live East, it's easy to get to. New York, if you're in California, it's a costly operation to do it. It's exciting for hotels. I think they're a little more affordable than New York so why not? Restaurants, there are as many good ones as in New York so nothing wrong with Chicago. Chicago is on the world map when it comes to food. Charlie (Trotter) was definitely a pioneer for that and now Grant (Achatz) today. Chicago deserves the accolades it is getting.
Donald Link: I love Chicago. I love New York, too. They're very different. It's interesting to see the Beard awards in a different light.
Ming Tsai: I'm so excited for Chicago. I just said this earlier. If I ever opened a restaurant outside of Boston, I would pick Chicago over everyone. Why? Because Chicago would welcome me. They're just as much into food as anyone in New York or Boston. And, no offense to Boston or New Yorkers, who I love as well, Chicago is just, across the board, nicer. They will enjoy and appreciate food without the attitude that sometimes you get in other cities. The Beard Awards coming here? Chicago did not need to be legitimized - it's a legit town, it's one of the top five cities bar none in this country for food - but it certainly puts it on the map. To be the next city outside of New York? If we moved the Oscars from LA, where's that gonna go? They just did that. I think it's fantastic and I look forward to coming back next year.
Curtis Stone: I think it's brilliant. I think it's about time that they tipped their hat to some great food cities. New York is unbelievable, of course, but there's a handful of us. LA's incredible. San Francisco's amazing. Chicago's a brilliant food city.
Barry Maiden: It means that I get to come to Chicago for the first time. I love being in the Midwest and exploring the city and all that it has to offer.
Jonathan Waxman: I think it's a refreshing change. Not that it was getting stale at Lincoln Center, but I think they needed to do something. I think that Rahm (Mayor Emanuel), obviously, really wanted it and that pushed things ahead and good for him. I think we all believe that it should travel America. I would love to see it in New Orleans. New Orleans for me is really the culinary capital of America. And I'd love to see it in San Francisco.
David Chang: I think it's good. I'm obviously biased towards New York. It's very fair to America. I'm really excited to be in Chicago, but as a native New Yorker I've grown accustomed to it being in New York. I'm slow to change. I look forward to coming back here every year. I just need to spend more time to eat here, quite frankly. I really, really do.