For the second straight year, a Chicago restaurant took home the James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant. Rick Bayless, on behalf of Topolobampo, joyfully accepted the award Monday night from Grant Achatz. A year ago on the same stage at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, chef Achatz accepted the honor for Alinea, the dazzling restaurant in Lincoln Park.
Deann Bayless accompanied her husband on stage. Rick Bayless said how "incredibly honored" he was to be celebrated with the other restaurants. He also pointed that Topolobampo was a team effort.
"We just wanted to bring some of the heart and soul that people had shared with us from Mexico and share it with people from this country," Bayless said. Topolobampo has been in River North for 28 years and just renovated its dining room. Bayless’ Frontera Grill won the same award in 2007.
Bayless made sure to recognize immigrants in his onstage remarks. They were particularly poignant as protesters marched around Chicago earlier in the day celebrating May Day. Plenty of immigrants from Mexico participated in calling for equal rights. "I think the spirit of immigrants is in all of us because we have brought it back with us in our work," he said.
Chicago won two awards on Monday. Monteverde chef/owner Sarah Grueneberg won Best Chef: Great Lakes. Chicago swept the nominations for the category for the second straight year. She told the crowd that she didn’t have a speech planned, and Grueneberg made sure to thank Tony Mantuano, crediting the Spiaggia chef/owner as a mentor. Her gratitude for Mantuano was perfect, as earlier in the awards, host Jesse Tyler Ferguson fumbled in his attempt to pronounce Mantuano’s name. Chef tweeted out a response.