The James Beard Awards, widely considered some of the most prestigious prizes in American hospitality, will soon return to Chicago for its glitzy annual awards gala on Monday, June 5 at the Lyric Opera House. The occasion brings a special buzz to the city’s restaurant industry, which offers plenty of opportunities over the weekend to celebrate by eating, drinking, and pressing the flesh of some of the nation’s most lauded chefs. Here’s a list of events that are open to the public.
Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Awards. Eater is partnering with the James Beard Foundation to livestream the awards in 2023. All editorial content, including this post, is produced independently of the James Beard Foundation.
Friday, June 2
Avondale: Chicago distillery Judson & Moore will kick off the weekend with an album release concert featuring local alt-country honky tonk artist Michelle Billingsley. Revelers can expect dancing, creative whiskey cocktails, and tacos from Big Star. Tickets ($15-$17) are available via Eventbrite. 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., 3057 N. Rockwell Street, Building 5.
Saturday, June 3
River North: Chef Joe Beddia of essential Philadelphia pizza spot Pizzeria Beddia will hold a one-day-only takeover of RPM Events with a special three-course menu including appetizers, pizzas, and soft-serve ice cream for dessert. Each course comes with a wine pairing chosen by RPM sommeliers. Tickets ($95) are available via Tock. Noon to 3 p.m. at RPM Events, 317 N. Clark Street.
DePaul: The team behind Love, Charlie: The Rise and Fall of Chef Charlie Trotter, a finalist for best documentary at the Foundation’s 2023 media awards, and local nonprofit the Trotter Project will host a charity matinee screening and Q&A with director Rebecca Halpern, as well as Trotter’s sister Anne Trotter Hinkamp and former spouse Lisa Trotter Ehrlich. A wine and dessert reception will follow with dishes from James Beard Award-winning chef and Trotter alum Debbie Gold (LeTour) and lauded chef Richie Farina (Adorn, Ever, Moto). Tickets ($25) and more details are available online. Proceeds from the event will go to Trotter Project scholarships and Facets’ John A. Bross Student Scholarship Fund. 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Facets, 1517 W. Fullerton Avenue.
West Town: Celebrity chef and four-time James Beard Award winner Andrew Zimmern will host Coffee Talk, a roundtable discussion about mental health in hospitality with panelists including 2023 best chef, Great Lakes finalists Genie Kwon and Tim Flores (Kasama); Curtis Duffy (Ever); Dominique Leach (Lexington Betty Smokehouse); Jason Vincent (Giant, Chef’s Special Cocktail Bar, Pizza Matta); suburban restaurateurs Christopher and Megan Curren (The Graceful Ordinary); and Becca Milligan of suicide prevention and mental health nonprofit Hope for the Day. RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org. 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Sparrow Coffee Roastery, 2040 W. Fulton Street.
The Loop: Colleen Vincent, the Beard Foundation’s vice president of community, will host a panel discussion around the theme “Food Access and Sustainable Communities” at Kendall College. Local panelists include 2022 best chef, Great Lakes winner Erick Williams (Virtue), multiple Beard Award-winner Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill, Topolobampo), and 2022 outstanding baker finalist Maya-Camille Broussard (Justice of the Pies). They’ll be joined by Brandon Chrostowski of Cleveland’s EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant Institute; Valerie Horn of Community Agricultural Nutritional Enterprises in Whitesburg, Kentucky; and chefs Justin Pioche (Pioche Food Group) and Sarah Welch (Marrow). Reservations are available online. 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Kendall College at National Louis University, 122 S. Michigan Avenue, 2nd Floor Atrium.
The Loop: JBF Cocktail for a Cause runs Saturday, June 3 through Monday, June 5 at Bar Mar by José Andrés, where a portion of proceeds from each Salt Air Margarita sold will go to the Foundation’s Women’s Leadership Fund. 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, June 3, and Sunday, June 4; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday, June 5 at Bar Mar, 120 N Wacker Drive.
Little Italy: Everything is coming up Italian beef as Chicago gears up for season two of the acclaimed FX show The Bear, and Al’s Beef is getting into the spirit with a Beef & Bandidos happy hour to celebrate the Beards. Organizers promise the famous sandwiches along with tequila cocktails, spiked lemonade from Mario’s Italian Lemonade, and gift bags with Chicago collectibles from former Detroit Red Wing Chris Chelios and Chris Pacelli of Al’s Beef. Tickets ($45) are available via Eventbrite. 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Al’s #1 Italian Beef, 1079 W. Taylor Street.
The Loop: James Beard Award-winning chefs Beverly Kim (Parachute) and Sarah Stegner (Prarie Grass Cafe), the founder and a founding member respectively of the Abundance Setting nonprofit, will host “Who’s Watching the Kids?,” a panel discussion about the challenges facing women and mothers in the hospitality industry. Panelists will include 2023 best chef, Great Lakes finalist Diana Dávila (Mi Tocaya Antojeria), Tigist Reda (Demera), Becca Grothe (Tribecca’s Sandwich Shop), James Beard award winner Erick Williams, and decorated chef and media personality Mary Sue Milliken (Border Grill). Following the discussion, attendees can try small dishes from local women-led restaurants. RSVP online. 3:15 p.m. to 4 p.m. (reception to follow) at Kendall College at National Louis University, 18 S. Michigan Avenue, 7th Floor.
Sunday, June 4
Little Village: Big Shoulders Coffee co-founders Patricia Coonan and chef Tim Coonan will host a casual, “roam-as-you-please” Brew and Brunch Roasting Tour with (naturally) fresh coffee and brunch, plus live roasting demonstrations, a micro-lot pour-over station, a latte art exhibition. They promise tons of concoctions including coffee mocktails, draft cold brew, and beer from Alarmist Brewing. All attendees will leave with a bag of freshly roasted beans. Tickets ($25) are available via Eventbrite. 10 a.m. to noon at Big Shoulders Coffee Roasting Works, 2415 W. 19th Street.
Logan Square: Spouses and restaurateurs Doug Psaltis and pastry chef Hsing Chen are organizing the second annual Logan Square Culinary Crawl, which kicks off at the couples’ modern Greek restaurant Andros Taverna, where Chen will offer pastries inspired by James Beard. They recommend that participants proceed to the nearby Logan Square Farmers Market before setting out for daytime treats at Pretty Cool Ice Cream and Taqueria Chingón. They’ve selected the recently relocated Daisies for happy hour, Sunday supper at Second Generation, and after-dinner drinks at Spilt Milk and/or the Meadowlark. This is a self-guided neighborhood crawl, so no tickets or RSVP is necessary, but reservations are recommended to guarantee seating. Andros Taverna, 2542 N. Milwaukee Avenue.
River North: Rum-heavy tropical bar Three Dots and a Dash will celebrate its 10th birthday with Three Dots and a Decade, a gathering featuring lauded bartenders from around the country and the world who have created special cocktails for the occasion. Participating bars include local drinking destination the Aviary as well as Thunderbolt (Los Angeles), Limantour (Mexico City), Trailer Happiness (London), Friday Saturday Sunday (Philadelphia), Navy Strength (Seattle), Manhatta (New York City), Tiki Tatsuya (Austin, Texas), Bar Leather Apron (Honolulu), Handshake Speakeasy (Mexico City), and Blossom Bar (Boston). Tickets ($95) are available via OpenTable and include five cocktails, along with “tropical bites” and live music. 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Three Dots and a Dash, 435 N. Clark Street.
River West: New York City-based World’s Best Bar winner the Dead Rabbit will pop up with cocktails, Irish cuisine, and live music at the Dawson. One dollar from each specialty cocktail sale will go to the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. Reservations and more details are available online. 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Dawson, 730 W. Grand Avenue.
West Loop: Chef Paul Virant will launch a summertime matsuri (festival in Japanese) at his okonomiyaki restaurant Gaijin with House of Suntory cocktails, small bites, and a performance by the Japanese Arts Foundation. Reservations, which are required, are available online. 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Gaijin, 950 W. Lake Street.
West Town: Foundation event series JBF Greens will hold a happy hour celebration with chef Brian Jupiter at Frontier where patrons can expect “hunted, farmed, foraged, and harvested” dishes and cocktails from Los Magos Sotol. Tickets are sold out, but hopefuls can add their name to the waitlist by writing to email@example.com. More details are available online. 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Frontier, 1072 N. Milwaukee Avenue.
Gold Coast: Hilton Hotels and Proof & Company will host a takeover at Bernard’s at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago where patrons can try recreations of award-winning cocktails, as well as hors d’oeuvres and favorite drinks from Bernard’s. RSVP at HiltonEnterprise@coynepr.com. 7 p.m. to midnight at Bernard’s at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago, 11 E. Walton, 3rd Floor.
River North: Chef Sujan Sarkar and his team at Indienne will present an Indian spin on omakase with a series of small plates featuring regional flavors of Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Goa, and Jaipur. Both vegetarian and meat menus will be available, as well as optional wine pairings. Tickets ($90) and more details are available via Tock. 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Indienne, 217 W. Huron Street.
Monday, June 5
The Loop: James Beard Award-winning chef Jonathon Sawyer and his team at Kindling Downtown Cookout and Cocktails inside Chicago’s famed Willis Tower will host a pre-game Cheers to the Beards event with wood-fired dishes and cocktails from beverage director Julieta Campos. Reservations and more details are available via Eventbrite. 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Kindling Downtown Cookout and Cocktails in the Willis Tower, 202 S. Franklin Street.
Around Town: Don’t feel like leaving the house? Here Here Market has assembled a pair of gift boxes full of pantry items and condiments created by local Beard winners. It includes popcorn from Luella’s Southern Kitchen, gnocchetti pasta from Monteverde, and sauces from Mott Street, and the Little Goat. Available for purchase at the Here Here Market website.