James Beard Awards Finalists Include Paul Kahan, Jimmy Bannos Jr.
CHICAGO — Paul Kahan and Donnie Madia, whose popular restaurants include a small-plates wine bar, a taqueria and a butcher shop, lead the pack of Chicago finalists for the 2013 James Beard Awards, announced Monday.
The James Beard Awards are considered the restaurant industry's top honors. The winners will be announced in New York in May.
Kahan is up for the Outstanding Chef Award, while Madia, whose One Off Hospitality Group includes Avec and Publican Quality Meats in the West Loop and Big Star in Wicker Park, is up for Outstanding Restaurateur.
David Posey, the chef at Blackbird, also in the One Off family, is nominated for the Rising Star Chef Award (honoring chefs who are 30 and under), along with the Purple Pig's Jimmy Bannos Jr.
Spiaggia, the Mag Mile Italian restaurant coming up on its 30th anniversary next year, is a finalist for Outstanding Restaurant.
Grace, meanwhile, is up for Best New Restaurant. Chef Curtis Duffy's West Loop restaurant, which offers two tasting menus nightly, opened just three months ago.
Other finalists include the Aviary in the West Loop and Wicker Park cocktail lounge Violet Hour for Outstanding Bar Program, and Topolobampo, Rick Bayless' fine-dining Mexican destination in River North, for Outstanding Service.
In the Book, Broadcast and Journalism categories, Mike Sula of the Chicago Reader was nominated for an MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award for his article considering the urban squirrel as dinner. WBEZ's Nina Barrett, Channel 7's Steve Dolinsky and the Chicago Restaurant Pastry Competition also received nominations.