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Three Chicago Chefs Are First-Time Beard Award Finalists in 2019

Chicago earned 17 nominations

Beard Award
The James Beard Awards return to Chicago in May.
James Beard Foundation [Official Photo]
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.

Chicago nabbed 17 James Beard Award nominations on Wednesday morning as the foundation unveiled its short list for 2019 awards. Chicago swept the Best Chef: Great Lakes category once again. The category’s meant to represent chefs in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. That was the only award Chicago won at the 2018 awards as Fat Rice’s Abe Conlon took home the honor.

The awards take place on May 6 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. As other states weren’t included in the Great Lakes region, there will be no doubt more cries in places like Detroit and Indianapolis that Chicago should have its own category. New York is currently the only region separated by city.

When the semifinalists were announced in February, Chicago was represented 25 times. Chicago earned four more finalist nominations this year compared to 2018 when the city had 10 nominations.

Eater Chicago 2017 chef of the year Diana Dávila (Mi Tocaya Antojeria), Jason Hammel (Lula Cafe, Marisol), and Noah Sandoval (Oriole, Kumiko) are first-time finalists for Best Chef: Great Lakes. The Alinea Group is also celebrating as the Aviary Cocktail Book earned a nod in the Beard’s Book Award category for beverages. Chef Bill Kim (Urban Belly) also earned a nomination for Korean BBQ: Master Your Grill in Seven Sauces in the Single Subject book award category. Also, the tag-team of Steve Dolinsky and Rick Bayless earned a nomination for an episode of their podcast, The Feed. The specific episode focused on “Paletas and Other Icy Treats.”

Read the list of Chicago nominees below. Go over to Eater National for the full list from around the country.

UPDATE: Oriole’s Noah Sandoval is also a first-time finalist and the story has been revised to reflect that.

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

(* denotes first-time finalist)

Best Chef: Great Lakes:

*Diana Dávila, Mi Tocaya Antojeria

*Jason Hammel, Lula Cafe

Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark, Parachute

David Posey and Anna Posey, Elske

*Noah Sandoval, Oriole

Lee Wolen, Boka

Outstanding Restaurateur:

Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz, Boka Restaurant Group

Rising Star Chef of the Year:

*Alisha Elenz, MFK

Outstanding Pastry Chef:

Meg Galus, Boka

Outstanding Baker:

Greg Wade, Publican Quality Bread

Outstanding Wine Program:


Outstanding Bar Program:

Lost Lake

Outstanding Restaurant Design, 76 Seats and Over:

*Lonesome Rose

*Pacific Standard Time

Fat Rice

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


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

Lonesome Rose

5310 North Clark Street, , IL 60640 (773) 654-1365 Visit Website

Pacific Standard Time

141 West Erie Street, , IL 60654 (312) 736-1778 Visit Website

Lyric Opera

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


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


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


205 East Pearson Street, , IL 60611 (312) 799-3599 Visit Website


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 Antojeria

2800 W Logan blvd, Chicago, IL 60647 (872) 315-3947 Visit Website


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