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Blackbird Wins Jean Banchet 2017 Restaurant of the Year

Oriole, Snaggletooth and Rick Bayless also earned awards

Barry Brecheisen
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.

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

Go 4 Food

212 West 23rd Street, , IL 60616 (312) 842-8688 Visit Website

GT Prime

707 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654 (312) 600-6305 Visit Website

Sumi Robata Bar

702 N Wells Street, Chicago, IL 60654 (312) 988-7864 Visit Website


259 E Erie St Fl 18, Chicago, IL 60611 (312) 337-0101

Immm Rice & Beyond

4949 North Broadway, , IL 60640 (773) 293-7378 Visit Website


2819 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60657 773-715-4790


1729 North Halsted Street, , IL 60614 (312) 337-6070 Visit Website


621 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661 (312) 466-1000 Visit Website

EL ideas

2419 West 14th Street, , IL 60608 (312) 226-8144 Visit Website


384 Hayes Street, , CA 94102 (415) 626-1211 Visit Website


1904 western, Chicago, IL 60647 (872) 315-3912


614 North 2nd Street, , PA 19123 (267) 324-5224 Visit Website

La Sirena Clandestina

954 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 226-5300 Visit Website


1132 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60642 (312) 624-8363 Visit Website


1952 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (773) 688-4466 Visit Website


665 Pasquinelli Drive, , IL 60559 (630) 948-3383 Visit Website

Maple & Ash

8 West Maple Street, , IL 60610 (312) 944-8888 Visit Website

Swift & Sons

1000 West Fulton Market, , IL 60607 (312) 733-9420 Visit Website


661 West Walnut Street, , IL 60661 (312) 877-5899 Visit Website


123 North Jefferson Street, , IL 60661 (312) 441-1920 Visit Website


1020 West Madison Street, Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 888-3041


951 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 789-4896

Osteria Langhe

2824 West Armitage Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 661-1582 Visit Website

De Quay

, Chicago, IL (872) 206-8820

The Berkshire Room

15 E Ohio, Chicago, IL 60611 (312) 894-0945 Visit Website

The Sixth

2202 West Lawrence Avenue, , IL 60625 (312) 256-2960 Visit Website


177 North Ada Street, , IL 60607 (773) 913-3773 Visit Website

The Loyalist

177 North Ada Street, , IL 60607 (773) 913-3774 Visit Website

Tamale Spaceship

Moving Target!, Chicago, IL 60606 312-909-7009 Visit Website

El Che Bar

845 West Washington Boulevard, , IL 60607 (312) 265-1130 Visit Website


120 W Monroe St, Chicago, IL 60603 (773) 489-5050 Visit Website


1723 North Halsted Street, , IL 60614 Visit Website

City Winery

1200 West Randolph Street, , IL 60607 (312) 733-9463 Visit Website

Band of Bohemia

4710 North Ravenswood Avenue, , IL 60640 (773) 271-4710 Visit Website

Owen & Engine

2700 North Western Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 235-2930 Visit Website


820 West Lake Street, , IL 60607 (312) 733-4818 Visit Website