This year’s Jean Banchet Awards For Culinary Excellence recognized Blackbird in the West Loop as the panel’s Restaurant of the Year. One Off Hospitality’s darling beat out EL Ideas, Schwa and Sepia for the honor. Chicago’s revered restaurant awards were announced on Sunday at Venue SIX10 in the South Loop.
This year, the panel dispersed awards to a variety of restaurants and chefs. Only the BOKA group earned more than one award. Its flagship in Lincoln Park won for Best Restaurant Service and Meg Galus won for Pastry Chef of the Year for her work at Swift & Sons, Momotaro and BOKA.
Roister, the Alinea Group’s most-casual spot, earned one award thanks to Andrew Brochu who won for chef of the year. His infamous fried chicken preparations certainly advanced his cause.
Oriole continued to receive acclaim. It was nominated in four categories and took home one award—Best Restaurant of the Year—a category the included four West Loop nominees.
Two winners are no longer with their respective establishments. Bartender Julia Momose won for Best Mixologist for her drinks at GreenRiver in Streeterville. Alison Cates won Rising Pastry Chef of the Year for her work at Honey’s in West Loop. Both left their jobs before New Year’s Day. Also, Best Ethnic Restaurant went to 5 Loaves Eatery on the South Side. Soul food is apparently ethnic. That’s a category that debuted for last year’s awards.
The Banchets also recognized Rick Bayless with a Culinary Achievement Award. Check out the full list of winners and nominees below. The awards once more benefitted Greater Illinois Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Restaurant of the Year: Blackbird, EL Ideas, Schwa, Sepia. WINNER: Blackbird
Chef of the Year: Andrew Brochu (Roister), Sarah Grueneberg (Monteverde), Gene Kato (Sumi Robata Bar), John Manion (La Sirena Clandestina/El Che Bar). WINNER: Brochu
Rising Chef of the Year: Ashlee Aubin (Salero), Cameron Grant (Osteria Langhe/Animale), Bill Montagne & Jennifer Kim (Snaggletooth), Charles Welch (Honey’s). WINNER: Montagne & Kim
Best Chef-de-Cuisine: Wilson Bauer (Schwa), Nick Dostal (Sixteen), Ryan Pfeiffer (Blackbird), Sarah Rinkavage (Lula Café). WINNER: Bauer
Pastry Chef of the Year: Meg Galus (Swift & Sons/Momotaro/BOKA), Genie Kwon (Oriole), Mindy Segal (Mindy’s HotChocolate), Cindy Schuman (Sepia). WINNER: Galus
Rising Pastry Chef of the Year: Dave Brandenburgh (Band of Bohemia), Alison Cates (Honey’s), Aya Fukai (Maple & Ash), Marianna Reynolds (El Che Bar). WINNER: Cates
Best Neighborhood Restaurant: Arbor, Owen & Engine, Snaggletooth, Sumi Robata Bar. WINNER: Sumi Robata Bar
Best Ethnic Restaurant: 5 Loaves Eatery, Go 4 Food, Hanbun, Immm Rice & Beyond. WINNER: 5 Loaves Eatery
Best New Restaurant: The Loyalist, Monteverde, Oriole, Roister. WINNER: Oriole
Best Sommelier: Rachel Driver Speckan (City Winery), Parag Lalit (Sixteen), Aaron McManus (Oriole), Terry McNeese (de Quay). WINNER: Driver Speckan
Best Mixologist: Griffin Elliott (Sepia), Nandini Khaund (Cindy’s), Julia Momose (GreenRiver), Benjamin Schiller (The Berkshire Room/The Sixth/Steadfast). WINNER: Momose
Best Restaurant Design: Dixie, El Che Bar, GT Prime, Smyth. WINNER: Dixie
Best Restaurant Service: BOKA, Honey’s, Maple & Ash, Oriole. WINNER: BOKA
Best Alternative Dining: Claudia, Happy Lobster, Nomad, Tamale Spaceship. WINNER: Nomad