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Alinea Wins James Beard Award For Nation's Most Outstanding Restaurant

By Patty Wetli | May 2, 2016 8:59pm | Updated on May 2, 2016 10:48pm

THE LOOP — It's official: Alinea is the best restaurant in the country.

On Monday night, Chef Grant Achatz accepted the 2016 James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant on behalf of the entire Alinea team. The honor is all the more exceptional given that the Lincoln Park restaurant has been closed since the beginning of the year for major renovations.

It was a risky move, one that Achatz thanked his staff for being willing to take.

"I have to thank the team at Alinea for not only embracing what we've done the last 11 years of the restaurant's life but really trusting myself and Nick [Kokonas] to blow up an existing restaurant that was working really well. To have the courage to embrace the spirit of the restaurant itself beyond the food, beyond the service, beyond the aesthetics but really the core philosophy and spirit of taking that risk in trying to constantly innovate."

The award was announced Monday night during the annual James Beard Awards ceremony at Lyric Opera Chicago.

Alinea, which already has three Michelin stars and routinely tops lists of the world's best restaurants, previously earned a Beard Award for Outstanding Service in 2010. Achatz was named Rising Star Chef in 2003, Best Chef Great Lakes in 2007 and Outstanding Chef in 2008.

The Beard Awards, dubbed the "Oscars of the food world," honor the country's top culinary talent. This is the second year the Beard Foundation has held its award ceremony in Chicago.

Grant Achatz, center, on the red carpet at the 2016 James Beard Awards. [DNAinfo/Patty Wetli]

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