Industry darlings and local heavyweights took the day at the 2020 Jean Banchet Awards, Chicago’s top non-media awards for local chefs, restaurants, and bars, held on Sunday in the South Loop. Top accolades went to established hard-hitters Anna and David Posey of one-Michelin-starred Nordic-style restaurant Elske who were named Chefs of the Year, and two-Michelin-starred Smyth snagged Restaurant of the Year recognition. Omakase destination Kyōten won Best New Restaurant, and Jess Galli won Rising Chef of the Year for her work at acclaimed pizza and bread-focused brewpub Middle Brow Bungalow.
Immaculate Japanese-style cocktail bar Kumiko and subterranean sister restaurant Kikkō picked up two awards this year: Best Bar and the Best Chef-de-Cuisine win for Mariya Russell. Pan-Asian Pilsen restaurant S.K.Y. also earned two victories for Best Restaurant Service and Rising Pastry Chef of the Year Tatum Sinclair.
The rest of the award winners are Pastry Chef of the Year Craig Harzewski (Brindille), Andersonville’s Italian-influenced Korean spot Passerotto won Best Neighborhood Restaurant, the Best Heritage Restaurant winner is Cafe Istanbul, Publican Quality Meats won Best Counter Service, Kevin Beary (the Bamboo Room at Three Dots and a Dash) won Best Bartender, and Aaron McManus (Oriole) was named Best Sommelier. Carlos Gaytán’s River North restaurant Tzuco received another Best Restaurant Design accolade.
Many of these winners aren’t surprising to Chicago restaurant enthusiasts. Elske, popular for sleek Danish modern styling and creative fine-dining fare, was named Eater Chicago’s Restaurant of the Year in 2017 and has held onto its Michelin star for three years running. Smyth, an indulgent fine dining hotspot, won a Banchet for 2018’s Best New Restaurant and earned two Michelin stars two years in a row. Lauded drink expert Julia Momose’s essential cocktail bar Kumiko and omakase spot Kikkō were among the four Japanese restaurants in Chicago awarded one Michelin star this year. Chef and owner Jennifer Kim of Passerotto won Eater Chicago’s 2018 award for Chef of the Year, and Tzuco was Eater Chicago’s 2019 Design of the Year winner. Kyoten, two-Michelin-starred Oriole, S.K.Y, and Smyth all appear on the Eater Chicago 38.
Fooditor first reported the 2019 award winners.