James Beard semi-finalists: Which Chicago restaurants made the cut

James Beard semi-finalists: Which Chicago restaurants made the cut
Husband and wife team, Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark (Parachute).

The James Beard Foundation announced yesterday its 2022 Restaurant and Chef Awards semi-finalists for 2022 in a multi-page press release covering dining across the US.

The James Beard judges visited thousands of restaurants from The Pig and the Lady and Piggy Smalls in Honolulu to MIDA in Boston to find the best of the best.

And it’s not just the big cities they visited.

There’s Bin 707 Foodbar in Grand Junction, CO and even Puerto Rico’s El Burén de Lula.

Chicago, IL – May 6, 2019: The 29th Annual James Beard Awards at The Lyric Opera House in The Loop. Photo by Clay Williams for The James Beard Foundation

The James Beard Awards are considered to be among the nation’s most prestigious honors, recognizing exceptional talent in the culinary and food media industries, as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive.

Here are the highlights of Chicago’s semi-finalists in the following awards categories.

Outstanding Restaurateur 

A restaurateur who uses their establishment(s) as a vehicle for building community, demonstrates creativity in entrepreneurship, integrity in restaurant operations, and is making efforts to create a sustainable work culture. Must have been in the restaurant business for at least five years, and they must not have been nominated for a James Beard Foundation Chef Award in the pastthree years.

Surprisingly there were no Chicago restauranteurs named in this category. The closest semi-finalist to Chicago is:

 Joe Muench, Black Shoe Hospitality in Milwaukee, WI.

Outstanding Chef 

A chef who sets high culinary standards and has served as a positive example for other food professionals. Must have been working as a chef for three or more consecutive years.

 Again Chicago was MIA so you may want to head north to check out the cuisine of Kyle Knall at Birch in Milwaukee, WI.

Outstanding Restaurant 

A restaurant that demonstrates consistent excellence in food, atmosphere, hospitality, and operations while contributing positively to its broader community. Must have been in business for five or more consecutive years, not including any time closed due to the pandemic.

 Drum roll please. Chicago has two standouts in this category:
Avondale’s funky, chic Parachute
And fine dining restaurant Oriole.

Best New Restaurant

A restaurant opened in 2020 or 2021 that already demonstrates excellence in cuisine and hospitality and seems likely to make a significant impact in years to come.

Kasama, already a Michelin Bib Gourmand winner for 2021, is Chicago’s lone entry for best new restaurant. This popular Ukrainian Village hotspot helmed by Chefs Tim Flores and Genie Kwon, both formerly of Oriole, is known for their contemporary Filipino cuisine and spectacular pastries. Ukrainian Village)1001 N. Winchester Avenue, Chicago.

Outstanding Baker

A baker of breads, pastries, or desserts who displays exceptional skill. Must consistently sell goods directly to the public, but does not need a brick-and-mortar presence and must have been working as a pastry chef or baker for the past three years.

Maya-Camille Broussard, takes the cake as a semi-finalist for her River North establishment Justice of the Pies.

Outstanding Pastry Chef

A pastry chef or a chef who makes desserts, pastries, or breads served as part of a meal. Candidate demonstrates exceptional skills and can be affiliated with any food business and does not need a brick-and-mortar presence. Must have been working as a pastry chef or chef who makes desserts for the past three years.

Shannah Primiano, Porto (Outstanding Pastry Chef semifinalist)

Outstanding Bar Program

A restaurant or bar that demonstrates exceptional care and skill in the selection, preparation, and serving of cocktails, spirits, and/or beer. Makes efforts to foster a diverse portfolio of brands and team members.

Andersonville’s LBGTQIA sassy Nobody’s Darling, owned by 2 black lesbians, gets the nod for Chicago and the tavern-styled Goodkind heads up the competition in Milwaukee.

Best regional chef

Chefs who set high standards in their culinary skills and leadership abilities, and who are making efforts to help create a sustainable work culture in their respective regions. May be from any kind of dining establishment but must have been working as a chef in the region for at least three years.

Best Chicago chefs great lakes Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH)

Darnell Reed

Rodolfo Cuadros, Amaru, Bloom Plant Based Kitchen, 1519 N. Milaukee, Chicago
Diana Dávila Boldin, Mi Tocaya Antojería, 2800 W. Logan Blvd., Chicago
Paul Fehribach, Big Jones, 5347 N. Clark, Chicago
Jason Hammel, Lula Cafe, 2537 N. Kedzie Chicago
Dave Park, Jeong, 1460 W. Chicago, Chicago
Darnell Reed, Luella’s Southern Kitchen, 4609 N. Lincoln, Chicago
Noah Sandoval, Oriole, Chicago
John Shields and Karen Urie Shields, Smyth, 177 N. Ada, Chicago
Erick Williams, Virtue Restaurant & Bar, 1462 E. 63rd., Chicago

Chicago Restaurant Week kicking off March 25 may be a good time to check some of these spots out.

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

Dane Baldwin, The Diplomat, Milwaukee
Karen Bell, Bavette La Boucherie, Milwaukee
Daniel Bonanno, A Pig in a Fur Coat, Madison, WI
Dan Jacobs and Dan Van Rite, EsterEv, Milwaukee
Gregory León, Amilinda, Milwaukee

The full list of semi finalists

The full list of 2022 Restaurant and Chef Awards semifinalists can be found below and on the James Beard Foundation website. Winners will be celebrated at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards ceremony on Monday, June 13, 2022, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

About the James Beard Awards

The James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards were established in 1991 and is one of five separate recognition programs of the Awards. James Beard Awards policies and procedures can be viewed at jamesbeard.org/awards/policies.

An overview of the voting process can be viewed here. For more information on this year’s Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists, see here.

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