Chicago scores 14 James Beard Award finalists, sweeping best chef Great Lakes for 3rd year

After teasing out a list of semi-finalists back in February, the nominees for the 2018 James Beard Awards are finally here. Was it worth the wait?

Let’s get to the disappointing news first. Although we had a strong group of semi-finalists in contention, Chicago chefs were shut out of the running for best new restaurant, outstanding chef and outstanding restaurant. Hopefully, things will be different next year.

Now let’s get to the good stuff, because there’s a lot to go around. It was a fantastic morning for Boka, which was nominated for outstanding service. Lee Wolen, was nominated for best chef: Great Lakes, while Meg Galus was nominated for the second time for outstanding pastry chef. Plus, Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz nabbed their well-deserved third nomination for outstanding restaurateur for their work with the Boka Restaurant Group.

It was also great to see Sarah Rinkavage, the chef de cuisine at Marisol, nominated for the rising star chef of the year award. Only chefs 30 years old or younger are eligible for the award, and it’s her first time nominated. And Greg Wade is once again up for outstanding baker for his work at Publican Quality Bread.

It’s also the third year in a row that Chicago chefs have swept the best chef: Great Lakes category. Andrew Brochu (Roister) and David and Anna Posey (Elske) are up for the first time, while Abraham Conlon (Fat Rice), Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark (Parachute) and, of course, Lee Wolen (Boka) all return.

The Beards also announced nominees for best food media, and Steve Dolinsky was once again nominated for television segment as the Hungry Hound on ABC 7.

To see who actually wins, you’ll have to wait until May 7, when the awards will be given out at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

For the full list of nominees, see the JBF website.

Twitter: @nickdk

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