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The Champagne-Soaked Scene From the James Beard Awards 2018 in Chicago

Actress Zooey Deschanel and race car driver Danica Patrick brought star power

The Lyric Opera’s marquee.
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.

Monday night was the fourth year the James Beard Awards held its gala in Chicago and it appears the restaurant world is more at ease. East Coasters aren’t complaining as much about their travel plans as the awards will stay in Chicago through 2021. Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday made it clear he wants to extend the contract past the next three years. However, the home team didn’t fare well as local nominees only brought home only one (Fat Rice’s Abe Conlon for Best Chef: Great Lakes) of six awards they were nominated in.

But that didn’t stop attendees from having a great time. The industry’s elite once again assembled at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Former Top Chef contestant Carla Hall, now co-host of the The Chew, returned to host the show after a one-year hiatus. She compared herself to Beyonce and showcased her arsenal of dance moves. Hall recovered nicely after wiping out on the stage at the start.

Conlon, who has been nominated five times for the Best Chef: Great Lakes award, celebrated late Monday night at his restaurant and gave a speech. The awards had a little more star power thanks to some celebrity presenters. Actress Zooey Deschanel and race car driver Danica Patrick handed out awards. Hamilton cast member Coby Lewis also attended.

Though it was a bit of a buzzkill that Chicago didn’t win more than one award on Monday, there’s always next year. Sun Wah, the Chinese restaurant in Uptown, was recognized as an American Classic, but the award was announced back in January. Walk down the red carpet and check out a few photos from the scene Monday night below.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Chef and activist Jose Andres
Spiaggia’s Joe Flamm and Tony Mantuano
Marisol’s Sarah Rinkavage
Alinea Group’s crew
Hamilton star Colby Lewis.
Pastoral’s Greg O’Neill and Ken Miller with Allison Hooper of Vermont Creamery
Parachute’s Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark.
Jake Pechenik and Zooey Deschanel
Stephanie Izard and Gary Valentine
Fat Rice’s Abe Conlon and Adrienne Lo
Rick Bayless
Carla Hall
Danica Patrick
The scene after the awards.

Fat Rice

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

Lyric Opera

20 N Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60606 312 332 2244 Visit Website