James Beard Winners Dish on Their Favorite Chicago Eats - Make It Better

Photos courtesy of each chef.

When the James Beard Awards come to town May 2, chefs, mixologists, sommeliers and restaurateurs from across the country will descend upon Chicago for a delicious, sometimes debaucherous, weekend of eating and drinking. Here, past award winners share their Chicago favorites and spots they can’t wait to try.

Gerard Craft

Gerard Craft

“I definitely want to make a stop at Packed Dumplings when I get up there and plan on hitting up old favorites like Trenchermen, Avec, Boka, Balena and Sepia. Some for lunch, some for dinner. Last year’s knockouts were Blackbird, Boka and Topolobampo.” — Gerard Craft, 2015 Best Chef: Midwest, Niche, Clayton, Missouri

Ashley Christensen

Ashley Christensen

“Unfortunately, I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to eat around Chicago, but I always try to make time for a burger and a root vegetable salad at Au Cheval. I also love Paul Kahan‘s spots, in particular Publican and Big Star — the margaritas are a great way to close out a night of celebrating.” Ashley Christensen, 2014 Best Chef: Southeast, Poole’s Downtown Diner, Raleigh, North Carolina 

Jessica Largey

Jessica Largey

“I had a wonderful meal recently at Lula Cafe. It was thoughtful, delicious and a beautiful expression of winter vegetables. I always make my rounds at One Off’s concepts whenever I’m in town. They are my Chicago standbys. I’m looking forward to exploring Chicago more during my time at Intro and a few notable stops on my list are: Spacca Napoli, Parachute, Sepia, Boho, and having the tomato tartare I keep hearing about at Momotaro. The list is growing by the day.” Jessica Largey, 2015 Rising Star Chef, Manresa, Los Gatos, California 

Rajat Parr

Rajat Parr

“I was in Chicago only for a day last year but I really enjoyed the after-party at Big Star. I had a great meal at Parachute too. Definitely need to check that out again.” ­Rajat Parr, 2015 Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional, Mina Group, San Francisco, California 

Jonathon Sawyer

Jonathon Sawyer

“One of the things I love to do is go to Dove’s Luncheonette (especially if I happen to have a post-party hangover) and get posole, hot sauce, a High Life, mezcal, and do some people-watching. I also love going to Lawry’s once a year and getting the prime rib — I just think it’s something everyone should experience. And I always go see Mindy [Segal] at Mindy’s Hot Chocolate, and am especially excited about the advent of her edibles release. And for places I’d love to try, I’ve never been to Spiaggia, and need to — Tony [Mantuano] is the godfather, and I’m especially curious since his renovation. I’m also really excited for David and Anna Posey’s new place, Elske.” Jonathon Sawyer, 2015 Best Chef: Great Lakes, Greenhouse Tavern, Cleveland, Ohio 

Timothy Hollingsworth

Timothy Hollingsworth

Three Dots and a Dash is always one of my favorite places to go grab a drink. Lost Lake is great too and I’ve always loved going to Aviary. This year I want to try Bar Marta.” Timothy Hollingsworth, 2010 Rising Star Chef, The French Laundry, Yountville, California 

Jason Stanhope

Jason Stanhope

“I can’t do Chicago without Peking duck at Sun Wah BBQ. They load up a lazy susan with traditional condiments and duck that has the crispest skin and serve it with tons of steamed buns. I need this in my life. Last Beards, we had a very classy meal at Topolobampo. I was so wowed by the food, wine and service and everything in between. It just reiterated how badass the whole staff is. And honestly, any meal at Avec is perfection.”Jason Stanhope, 2015 Best Chef: Southeast, FIG, Charleston, South Carolina 

Chicago-James-Beard-Awards-Mike-Lata

Mike Lata

“Last year, after our executive chef Jason Stanhope won for his great work at FIG, we headed to The Purple Pig for a late night feast and dance party. The Pig’s team — led by the ever-hospitable Jimmy [Bannos] and Jimmy [Bannos] Jr. — kept the food coming, the wine flowing and the music blaring until the wee hours of the morning. Our motley crew from FIG and The Ordinary, along with some chef and editor friends, danced like maniacs and celebrated Jason’s win while also honoring our friend Josh Ozersky. It was an unforgettable night!” Mike Lata, 2009 Best Chef: Southeast, FIG, Charleston, South Carolina 


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