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Chicago’s Jean Banchet Awards Announce 2020 Nominees for Best Restaurant and More

Plus, an acclaimed South Side chef debuts his illustrated culinary autobiography, and more intel

A low-lit dining room with lots of wood and white tablecloths.
Oriole is in the running for Jean Banchet best restaurant of the year.
Marc Much/Eater Chicago

2020 Jean Banchet Award nominations are live

The new Jean Banchet Award nominees are out, declaring the top contenders for the local restaurant awards in 2020. West Loop/Fulton Market fine dining restaurant Oriole is once again in the running for best restaurant of the year, along with Carrie Nahabedian’s River North restaurant Brindille, Spanish costal spot mfk. restaurant, and two-Michelin-starred West Loop eatery Smyth. Chef of the year nominees are El Che Steakhouse & Bar and La Sirena Clandestina’s John Manion, Anna and David Posey of Elske, Virtue’s Erick Williams, and Christine Cikowski and Joshua Kulp of Honey Butter Fried Chicken. Nominees for rising star chef, an honor bestowed on up-and-comers in Chicago’s restaurant industry, are Jess Galli (Middle Brow Bungalow), Larry Feldmeier (the Albert), Jose Sosa (Gibsons Italia), and Justin Moser (Table, Donkey and Stick). A full list of the 2020 nominees is available here. Jean Banchet staff will announce the winners at an event on January 19 at Venue SIX10.

Acclaimed EL Ideas chef debuts illustrated culinary autobiography

Chef Phillip Foss, owner of acclaimed South Side fine-dining restaurant EL Ideas, lays bare his struggles with alcohol, depression, and the pressures of running a high-profile restaurant in his new illustrated “autobiographical culinary fantasy,” Life in EL. In a detailed Medium post, Foss describes the graphic book as “the end product of a lifetime of lessons learned in the restaurant world and in life.” He hopes the book, illustrated by cousin Timothy Foss, will inspire chefs to take better care of themselves and their colleagues.

Three illustrated panels from a graphic book.
Three panels from Phillip and Timothy Foss’ new book, Life in EL.
Timothy Foss

Replay Lincoln Park cranks out three more nostalgia-laden pop-ups this month

Nostalgia pop-up factory Replay Lincoln Park has three new themed events planned for this month. Staff is currently resurrecting the bar’s popular (and unofficial) 2018 Rick and Morty pop-up, inspired by the cult animated TV show, offering chicken nuggets with Mulan Szechuan Teriyaki sauce and cocktails called “the Meekeeks” and the “Rickhatten” through November 24. Management will also run a pop-up themed around 1980s arcade game behemoth NAMCO starting next Thursday (a kick-off for its new Thursday ‘80s nights), and then they hope that a Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood will lure patrons into the Land of Make Believe through November 30.

New study finds Chicago’s black women restaurant workers bear the brunt of the industry’s ‘sub-minimum wage’

And finally, African Americans — and black women in particular — bear the brunt of Chicago’s “sub-minimum wage” for tipped workers, the Sun-Times reports, according to a new study conducted by UC Berkeley’s Food Labor Research Center with nonprofit groups One Fair Wage and Restaurant Opportunities Centers United. Currently paid $6.40 per hour with tips, 63 percent of Chicago’s tipped restaurant workers are people of color who work in casual restaurants where tips are typically low, researchers found. The poverty rate among the city’s black tipped workers is three times that of the rest of the country’s workforce, and rises to three-and-a-half times for black women specifically, the study reports.

Gibsons Italia

233 North Canal Street, , IL 60606 (312) 414-1100 Visit Website

Replay Lincoln Park

2833 North Sheffield Avenue, , IL 60657 (773) 665-5660 Visit Website

EL ideas

2419 West 14th Street, , IL 60608 (312) 226-8144 Visit Website

mfk. Restaurant

432 West Diversey Parkway, , IL 60614 (773) 857-2540 Visit Website

Middle Brow Bungalow

2840 W. Armitage Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 Visit Website

La Sirena Clandestina

954 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 226-5300 Visit Website


661 West Walnut Street, , IL 60661 (312) 877-5899 Visit Website

the Albert

228 East Ontario Street, , IL 60611 (312) 471-3883 Visit Website

Table, Donkey and Stick

2728 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (773) 486-8525 Visit Website


1350 West Randolph Street, , IL 60607 (312) 733-1314 Visit Website


177 North Ada Street, , IL 60607 (773) 913-3773 Visit Website


534 North Clark Street, , IL 60654 (312) 595-1616 Visit Website


1462 E. 53rd Street, Chicago, IL

El Che Steakhouse & Bar

845 West Washington Boulevard, , IL 60607 (312) 265-1130 Visit Website

Honey Butter Fried Chicken

3361 North Elston Avenue, , IL 60618 (773) 478-4000 Visit Website