2016 James Beard Awards: Chicago, Los Angeles, And New Orleans Are Top Winners

The 2016 James Beard Foundation Awards honored the best chefs and restaurants in America during a star-studded ceremony held on Monday evening in Chicago’s Lyric Opera. Named for the late cookbook and teacher James Beard, the event is often referred to as “the Oscars of the food world.” The long list of winners were named in a number of categories, and Bloomberg reports that Chicago eatery, Alinea, “which recently reopened after a seven-figure renovation, won for Outstanding Restaurant.” Below are some of the highlights.

  • Best New Restaurant: Shaya, New Orleans
  • Outstanding Baker: Joanne Chang, Flour Bakery + Cafe, Boston
  • Outstanding Bar Program: Maison Premiere, Brooklyn
  • Outstanding Chef: Suzanne Goin, Lucques, Los Angeles
  • Outstanding Pastry Chef: Dahlia Narvaez, Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles
  • Outstanding Restaurant: Alinea, Chicago

See photos from the 2016 James Beard Awards Gala in Chicago.

See the complete list of 2016 James Beard Award nominees.

See the complete list of 2016 Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists.

As the website notes, “The James Beard Foundation’s mission is to celebrate, nurture, and honor America’s diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire.” Beard championed American cuisine and mentored “generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts.”

The Beard Foundation continues to offer “a variety of events and programs designed to educate, inspire, entertain, and foster a deeper understanding of our culinary culture.” The Foundation’s supportive online community also “hosts conferences, tastings, lectures, workshops, and food-related art exhibits” around the country. Additionally, the historic James Beard House in New York City’s Greenwich Village serves as a “performance space” for visiting chefs.

A 2015 study from SunTrust Bank showed that a number of higher income households are living paycheck to paycheck primarily because they’re spending too much on “lifestyle expenses” like dining out. Eater reports that most of the participants of the study that made $75,000 or more admitted that fulfilling their foodie fix was preventing them from “reaching their savings goals.”

Food is visually attractive to many people, which is why cooking shows are popular in America. During a 2014 interview with Smithsonian, celebrity chef and cookbook author Anthony Bourdain weighed in on why viewers are entertained by others making dishes for them to salivate over.

“There are huge populations of people who move from the country to the city who, for them, I guess the Food Network is nesting. It’s evoking a family life, a kitchen table that they probably never had, or maybe only had briefly,” Bourdain explained. “I think that’s an international thing. But now I don’t know because people don’t really cook on TV anymore. [They’re] very few shows where they actually dump and stir. Now it’s doing stuff like having contests and…even the ones where they’re actually cooking, it’s more about interpersonal drama, like a reality show,” he added.

James Beard appeared on television’s first cooking show in 1947 titled I Love to Eat, which aired on NBC. Since then, food has been one of the most engaging subjects in American broadcasting. The prestigious James Beard Awards aims to recognize “the country’s top culinary talent and celebrate the role of cuisine in television.”

The Oregon Live shared the full list of 2016 James Beard Awards winners, check out the additional recipients below.

Outstanding Service

Eleven Madison Park, NYC

Outstanding Wine Program

Bern’s Steakhouse, Tampa, FL

Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional

Ron Cooper, Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal, Ranchos de Taos, NM

Rising Star Chef of the Year

Daniela Soto‐Innes, Cosme, NYC

Best Regional Chefs

Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH)

Curtis Duffy, Grace, Chicago

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (D.C., DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA)

Aaron Silverman, Rose’s Luxury, Washington D.C.

Best Chef: Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI)

Paul Berglund, The Bachelor Farmer, Minneapolis

Best Chef: New York City (Five Boroughs)

Jonathan Waxman, Barbuto

Best Chef: Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, NY STATE, RI, VT)

Zak Pelaccio, Fish & Game, Hudson, NY

Best Chef: Northwest (AK, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY)

Renee Erickson, The Whale Wins, Seattle

Best Chef: South (AL, AR, FL, LA, MS, PR)

Justin Devillier, La Petite Grocery, New Orleans

Best Chef: Southeast (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV)

Tandy Wilson, City House, Nashville

Best Chef: Southwest (AZ, CO, NM, OK, TX, UT)

Justin Yu, Oxheart, Houston

Best Chef: West (CA, HI, NV)

Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, Animal, Los Angeles

[Photo via Shutterstock]