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Chicago Has 25 James Beard Award Semifinalists For 2019

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Highlights include Kyoten, Passerotto, and Sarah Grueneberg

James Beard Award
The Beard Awards take place on May 6 in Chicago.
James Beard Foundation [Official Photo]

Chicago’s restaurant owners and workers hope that 2019 is a better year for the city at the James Beard Foundation Awards, as last year the city collectively took home only one. That’s despite hosting the awards, which will again take place at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, this time on May 6. This morning, the Beard Foundation released its semifinalists and Chicago restaurants, bars, chefs, and beverage professionals nabbed 25.

This year’s Chicago nomination highlights include Kyoten and Passerotto for Best New Restaurant (the latter of whose chef Jennifer Kim won the Eater Award for Chicago’s chef of the year), Sarah Grueneberg of Monteverde for Outstanding Chef, North Pond for Outstanding Restaurant, and Rob Katz and Kevin Boehm of Boka Restaurant Group are once again semifinalists for Outstanding Restaurateur. Other nominees include Lost Lake, Meg Galus of Boka, and Alisha Enz of MFK. The 2019 finalists will be announced on March 27.

Notable first-time nominees include Gibsons Bar and Steakhouse. It’s the first time the venerable Chicago mini-chain has received a nod, and its for Outstanding Service. Stephanie Hart of Brown Sugar Bakery on the South Side also received recognition in the Outstanding Baker category. Brian Jupiter of Frontier in Noble Square also netted his first nominations in the Best Chef: Great Lakes category.

Last year the city grabbed 28 semifinalists on the “long list” versus 31 in 2017. Only one semifinalist — Fat Rice chef/owner Abe Conlon for Best Chef: Great Lakes — went on to win an award in 2018.

The outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel administration have claimed luring the Beards from New York as one of its biggest accomplishments. The timing of the release of the nominations, the day after the Chicago mayoral election, coincides with the fact that the city now knows Emanuel will be replaced by either Lori Lightfoot or Toni Preckwinckle. The April mayoral runoff comes before the awards. The Beards will continue to take place in Chicago through at least through 2027.

This year’s Chicago nominations are below (* denotes a repeated nominee from past years). Head over to Eater National for the long list from around the country.

Best New Restaurant



Outstanding Baker

Stephanie Hart, Brown Sugar Bakery

*Greg Wade, Publican Quality Bread

Outstanding Bar Program

*Lost Lake

Outstanding Chef

Sarah Grueneberg, Monteverde

Outstanding Pastry Chef

*Meg Galus, Boka

Outstanding Restaurant

*North Pond

Outstanding Restaurateur

*Rob Katz and Kevin Boehm, Boka Restaurant Group

Outstanding Service

Birrieria Zaragoza

Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse

Outstanding Wine Program

Income Tax


Rising Star Chef of the Year

Alisha Elenz, MFK

Best Chef: Great Lakes

Thai Dang and Danielle Dang, HaiSous Vietnamese Kitchen

*Diana Dávila, Mi Tocaya Antojería

*Paul Fehribach, Big Jones

*Jason Hammel, Lula Café

Brian Jupiter, Frontier

*Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark, Parachute

Ethan Pikas, Cellar Door Provisions

*David Posey and Anna Posey, Elske

*Iliana Regan, Kitsune

*Noah Sandoval, Oriole

*Lee Wolen, Boka

Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Foundation Awards.


5420 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL Visit Website

Cellar Door Provisions

3025 West Diversey Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 697-8337 Visit Website


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

Birrieria Zaragoza

4852 South Pulaski Road, , IL 60632 (773) 523-3700 Visit Website

HaiSous Vietnamese Kitchen

1800 South Carpenter Street, , IL 60608 (312) 702-1303 Visit Website

Big Jones

5347 North Clark Street, , IL 60640 (773) 275-5725 Visit Website

Income Tax

5959 North Broadway, , IL 60660 (773) 897-9165 Visit Website


2507 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (312) 678-0800 Visit Website

Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse

1028 North Rush Street, , IL 60611 (312) 266-8999 Visit Website


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


1072 North Milwaukee Avenue, , IL 60642 (773) 772-4322 Visit Website


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


1020 West Madison Street, Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 888-3041


4229 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL 60618


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

Lost Lake

3154 West Diversey Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 293-6048 Visit Website

Lula Cafe

2537 North Kedzie Boulevard, , IL 60647 (773) 489-9554 Visit Website

Mi Tocaya Antojería

2800 West Logan Boulevard, , IL 60647 (872) 315-3947 Visit Website


980 North Michigan Avenue, , IL 60611 (312) 280-2750 Visit Website

Brown Sugar Bakery

328 East 75th Street, , IL 60619 (773) 224-6262 Visit Website

North Pond

, , IL 60614