CHICAGO — Chicago didn't have to wait long for recognition at the 2014 James Beard Awards, announced Monday in New York.
Jimmy Bannos Jr. of the Purple Pig, 500 N. Michigan Ave., tied for the first award of the night, the Rising Star Chef Award. Bannos shared the honor with Blaine Wetzel of the Willows Inn on Lummi Island in Washington. It was the first ever tie in that category.
Not too long after, Dave Beran of Next won the award for Best Chef in the Great Lakes region. The restaurant at 953 W. Fulton Market changes its entire concept three times a year.
"We're really lucky. We kind of get to do what we want and it's worked so far," Beran said.
The Beard Awards are considered the top honors in the culinary world.
Lawton Stanley Architects in Ravenswood, which designed the West Loop restaurant Grace, picked up the title of Best Restaurant Design for spots with 75 seats or less. This one wasn't a complete surprise — the architects and Grace's partners, chef Curtis Duffy and general manager Michael Muser, had learned over the weekend that they'd won from a tweet and blog post apparently published prematurely.
Chef Paul Kahan, whose ever-expanding One Off Hospitality Group includes Blackbird, Avec, the Publican and, most recently, Nico Osteria, was inducted into the foundation's Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America.
Other Chicagoans who were nominated but came up short included Blackbird's Dana Cree for Outstanding Pastry Chef and Donnie Madia, Kahan's cohort, for Outstanding Restaurateur.
The Near North Italian spot Spiaggia, which re-opens May 23 after an extensive renovation, was a finalist for Outstanding Restaurant, while Rick Bayless' restaurant Topolobampo in River North was a finalist for Outstanding Service. The Wicker Park bar The Violet Hour was nominated for Outstanding Bar Program.
The only other Chicago winner was pastry chef Jacquy Pfeiffer, co-founder of the French Pastry School. His cookbook, "The Art of French Pastry," written with Martha Rose Shulman, was named best in the Baking and Dessert Category during Friday's journalism and book awards ceremony.