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.