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Boka Group’s Four Nominations Highlight Chicago’s 2018 James Beard Award Finalists

Chicago has 10 Beard nominations this year, the same as last year

The 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards Gala at Chicago’s Lyric Opera House
Marc Much

Chicago’s food and beverage industry netted 10 nominations this morning when the James Beard Foundation announced its finalists for the 2018 awards from Philadelphia. Boka Restaurant Group scored the most of the city’s finalist nominations as Rob Katz and Kevin Boehm’s company — which runs restaurants including Boka, Stephanie Izard’s Girl & the Goat, and Momotaro — were recognized four times, including for Outstanding Restaurateur.

Last year, 10 Chicago-related restaurants, chefs, and bartenders also made it to the finalists’ round. Twenty-eight were Beard semifinalists this year, as revealed in February. The awards ceremony, known as the “Oscars of the food world,” will take place on May 7 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago for the fourth-straight year.

Chicago chefs were nominated 13 times as semifinalists in the Best Chef: Great Lakes category which covers Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. All five finalists are from Chicago: Andrew Brochu (Roister), Abe Conlon (Fat Rice), Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark (Parachute), David and Anna Posey (Elske), and Lee Wolen (Boka). For Conlon, Kim and Clark this was their second-consecutive year they were named finalists. For Wolen, it was his third-straight finalist nomination. Sarah Grueneberg (Monteverde) won the award last year.

Tony Mantuano (Spiaggia) and Carrie Nahabedian — who recently announced the relocation of Naha — didn’t make it to the list of finalists for Best Chef. Chicago was also shut out of all of all of the beverage categories, so Lost Lake, The Boarding House, and Charles Joly did not move on to the finalist round. Meanwhile, HaiSous and Mi Tocaya Antojería didn’t make it as finalists in the Best New Restaurant category.

Read through all of Chicago’s finalists below. Head to Eater National for the full list of all Beard finalists.

Best Chef: Great Lakes (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio)

Andrew Brochu, Roister

Abraham Conlon, Fat Rice

Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark, Parachute

David Posey and Anna Posey, Elske

Lee Wolen, Boka

Outstanding Baker

Greg Wade, Publican Quality Bread

Outstanding Pastry Chef

Meg Galus, Boka

Meg Galus
Boka Restaurant Group [Official]

Outstanding Restaurateur

Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz, Boka Restaurant Group

Outstanding Service


Boka Restaurant
Marc Much/Eater Chicago

Rising Star Chef of the Year

Sarah Rinkavage, Marisol

In addition, ABC Chicago’s Steve Dolinsky — for the second-consecutive year — is a finalist for Best Television Segment. The Hungry Hound will find out if he’s a winner on April 27 when the foundation announces all its journalism awards.


3500 North Elston Avenue, , IL 60618 (872) 204-7138 Visit Website


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

Fat Rice

2957 West Diversey Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 661-9170 Visit Website


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


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