The 2018 Jean Banchet Award nominations are out, and Monteverde’s Sarah Grueneberg could yet again win big. The Banchet panel nominated Grueneberg (who won this year’s James Beard Award for Best Chef: Great Lakes) for Chef of the Year and her West Loop Italian restaurant is nominated for Restaurant of the Year. This year’s Banchets, which honor Chicago’s chefs, restaurants and other members of the dining industry, take place on January 14 at Venue Six10 in the South Loop.
Sixteen, the restaurant inside Trump Tower, was recognized with four nominations, the most of any restaurant this year. Staff already celebrated last month when they retained their two-star Michelin rating despite hiring a new chef earlier this year. Michelin inspectors enjoy continuity and could have made a case to penalize Sixteen. The Banchet panel was also impressed and gave them a Restaurant of the Year nod. Sixteen’s Nick Dostal earned a Rising Chef of the Year nomination, Evan Sheridan earned a Pastry Chef of the Year nod, and Parag Lalit earned a Best Sommelier nomination.
Oriole received three nominations, and the owners of Sepia and Proxi in the West Loop also earned a trio of nominations. Proxi, which opened earlier this year, somehow didn’t earn a nomination for Best Ethnic Restaurant, despite the restaurant’s global influences. Katsu and Haruko Imamura of Katsu, the North Side sushi spot that’s closing in November after 29 years, will also receive the Banchet Culinary Achievement Award. One quirk: Mari Katsumura of Entente earned a nominee for Pastry Chef of the Year. She left the Lakeview restaurant earlier this year before Michelin awarded the restaurant a star.
Other quick observations: Even though Perennial Virant closed in Lincoln Park, chef Paul Virant’s suburban restaurant, Vie, received two nominations: Restaurant of the Year and Vie’s Angelyne Canicosa earned one for Rising Pastry Chef of the Year. Diana Dávila was nominated as Rising Chef of the Year, but her Logan Square restaurant Mi Tocaya Antojería — which has garnered plenty of national attention — was shut out of the Best New Restaurant category. Also, Chicago’s beer industry received some spotlight with two brewpubs, Old Irving Brewing Co. and Forbidden Root, earning nominations.
The panel received more than 11,000 nomination suggestions from the public this year, according to a news release. They’ll hand out 15 awards this year with one new category: Best Bar. They nixed Best Alternative Dining this year, a category that recognized pop-ups and food trucks.
Earlier this year, Blackbird took home the Banchet for 2017 Restaurant of the Year. Take a look at 2018’s full list of nominees below. The awards take place in January.
Restaurant of the Year
Chef of the Year
Sarah Grueneberg (Monteverde)
Noah Sandoval (Oriole)
John Shields (Smyth and The Loyalist)
Andrew Zimmerman (Sepia, Proxi)
Rising Chef of the Year
Diana Dávila (Mi Tocaya Antojería)
Nick Dostal (Sixteen)
Brian Fisher (Entente)
Sam Plotnick and Don Young (Temporis)
Ross Henke (Quiote)
Joel Heseman (The Bristol)
Bill Montagne (Nico Osteria)
Sarah Rinkavage (Lula Cafe, Marisol)
Pastry Chef of the Year
Mari Katsumura (Entente)
Genie Kwon (Oriole)
Greg Mosko (NoMi Kitchen)
Anna Posey (Elske)
Rising Pastry Chef of the Year
Kyleen Atonson (Honey’s)
Angelyne Canicosa (Vie)
Maree Rogers (Momotaro)
Evan Sheridan (Sixteen)
Best Neighborhood Restaurant
Old Irving Brewing Co.
Best Ethnic Restaurant
HaiSous Vietnamese Kitchen
Ras Dashen Ethiopian Restaurant
Best New Restaurant
Andrew Algren (Cherry Circle Room)
Matty Colston (Parachute)
Jill Gubesch (Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Leña Brava, Cruz Blanca, Xoco, Xoco Bistro)
Parag Lalit (Sixteen)
Stephanie Andrews (Billy Sunday)
Julieta Campos (The Whistler)
Amit Gilad (GreenRiver)
Joshua Novy (Homestead on the Roof)
Best Restaurant Design
Cherry Circle Room
Forbidden Root Restaurant & Brewery