Chicago, an international food destination, is once again hosting the prestigious James Beard Awards on June 3-5. To buy tickets, see below. Chicago also recently was recognized by Food & Wine’s new Global Tastemakers Awards in the following categories:
○ 10 Best Cities for Neighborhood Restaurants in the U.S. (#4)
○ The Best Cities for Food in the U.S. (#6)
○ The 10 Best Bars in the U.S. (The Violet Hour, #10)
○ The 5 Most Creative Bars in the U.S. (The Violet Hour, #1, The Aviary, #2)
James Beard Awards 2023: full list of Chicago nominees
Big Jones Restaurant chef and owner, Paul Fehribach was recognized as a nominee for Best Chef in the Midwest, 2023 by the James Beard Foundation. When he is not in the kitchen, Fehribach has been writing his multi-year cookbook project Midwestern Food: A Chef’s Guide to the Surprising History of a Great American Cuisine available for purchase in mid-October 2023 from local booksellers online and at Big Jones.
The prestigious James Beard Awards will be returning to Chicago to honor the best restaurants and chefs in America on June 5, 2023. The list of Chicago semifinalist contenders include:
Smyth: Outstanding Restaurant
One of the James Beard Awards’ highest honors, Outstanding Restaurant recognizes establishments that “demonstrate consistent excellence in food, atmosphere, and hospitality.” Helmed by husband-and-wife duo John Shields and Karen Urie Shields, this tasting menu spot is grounded in pristine products and produce grown in close collaboration with small farms. The menu, which evolves constantly, is served in a welcoming atmosphere with an open kitchen, so guests can watch the chef’s creativity in action.
Damarr Brown, Virtue: Emerging Chef
Last year, executive chef Erick Williams of Virtue took from the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Great Lakes. This year, his chef de cuisine Damarr Brown is being recognized for displaying “exceptional talent, character, and leadership ability”. Brown, a fan favorite on Top Chef, has been demonstrating his culinary expertise in Virtue’s kitchen in the Hyde Park neighborhood, composing elegant versions of classic Southern American dishes.
Khmai Cambodian Fine Dining: Best New Restaurant
A hidden gem no more, Khmai has received local and national acclaim for its authentic Cambodian cuisine. Executive chef Mona Sang draws on her Cambodian heritage to compose the restaurant’s weekly menus, which are all served family style for the entire table to enjoy. Khmai is located in the Rogers Park neighborhood — be sure to make a reservation before you go.
Obélix: Best New Restaurant
Chicago is home to a plethora of excellent French restaurants, but Obélix has still managed to stand out from the pack. The intimate space in River North serves up elevated takes on modern French fare. Diners will find favorites like French onion soup, escargots, and steak frites, alongside creative dishes like foie gras macarons, lobster crepes, and confit squab.
Sepia: Outstanding Hospitality
A longtime favorite in the West Loop neighborhood, this venerable institution has earned this nomination for “fostering a sense of hospitality among its customers and staff that serves as a beacon for the community”. The menu melds rustic and refined elements in a way that’s both classic and approachable. The four-course tasting menu offers various options, including sourdough cavatelli, truffle fried chicken, dry-aged beef striploin, and more.
All Together Now: Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program
This funky space in the West Town neighborhood is a jack of all trades — wine shop, cheese counter, intimate restaurant, and community gathering space. You can grab some small plates at happy hour, enjoy a weekend brunch, load up on ingredients for the perfect charcuterie board, or just kick back with a glass of wine and enjoy the laidback vibes.
These regional accolades recognize chefs who set high standards in their culinary skills and leadership abilities, while contributing positively to their broader community. The following Chicago chefs have been nominated for Best Chef: Great Lakes in 2023:
- Diana Dávila Boldin, Mi Tocaya Antojería
- Thai Dang, HaiSous Vietnamese Kitchen
- Paul Fehribach, Big Jones
- Tim Flores and Genie Kwon, Kasama
- Zubair Mohajir, Wazwan
● North America’s 50 Best Bars named Kumiko and Milk Room to their 2023 list.
James Beard Events
2023 James Beard Awards
June 3-5, 2023
2023 James Beard Awards
For more than 30 years, the James Beard Awards, among the nation’s most prestigious honors, have recognized leaders in the culinary and food media industries. This summer, nominees and Award winners will be honored through a weekend of events sure to be the industry’s and food lovers’ highlight of the year, gathering nearly 1,500 of the country’s top chefs, restaurateurs, food media, and culinary enthusiasts in Chicago with millions more tuning in live and on TV. More than 70 Awards will recognize excellence in the categories of restaurants and chefs, books, broadcast media, journalism, leadership, and lifetime achievements.
Join us as we celebrate excellence and community while recognizing our rich and diverse culinary heritage and those who tell its story.
James Beard Media Awards
Saturday, June 3 at 5:00 P.M. CT, Columbia College Chicago
A theater-style seated awards ceremony honoring broadcast media, cookbook, and journalism nominees from around the country. A reception will immediately follow the ceremony, highlighting chefs and other luminaries, including those from the Chicago culinary scene. 400 guests are expected.
James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards
Monday, June 5 at 6:00 P.M. CT, Lyric Opera of Chicago
This Academy Awards-style event will feature red carpet arrivals and an awards ceremony honoring the best of the best in the restaurant and chef industry. This premier event will be broadcast live. 1,650 guests are expected.
James Beard Post-Awards Celebration
Monday, June 5 at 9:00 P.M. CT, Chicago Union Station
A walk-around tasting reception held at Union Station will immediately follow the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards. Attended by over 1,600 chefs, restaurateurs, food media, and culinary enthusiasts, the event will feature food and beverage stations highlighting chefs from around the country.
Reservation Policy: All reservations are non-refundable.
About the James Beard Foundation
The James Beard Foundation is a nonprofit organization with a mission to celebrate, support, and elevate the people behind America’s food culture and champion a standard of good food anchored in talent, equity, and sustainability.