The James Beard awards ceremony, known as the Oscars of the food world, will move to Chicago in 2015. It’s the first year the awards will be held outside of New York City (can we expect Seattle to host at some point?)
The ceremony and gala afterwards will be held at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The Book, Broadcast & Journalism Awards, generally awarded on a separate night, will remain in Manhattan.
I’m going to miss the excitement and star quality of Lincoln Center, where the ceremony had been held since the awards began in 1990. Chicago Tribune reporter Kevin Pang, writing from the scene of the announcement Tuesday morning, called the news “a major get for the city, allowing Chicago restaurants to showcase for the country’s top chefs, restaurateurs and food journalists that attend the event.” He wrote that the foundation was approached a few months ago by Chicago’s tourism agency, and that president Susan Ungaro “would not elaborate whether the city offered any financial incentives that ultimately lured the awards from New York, only that the city of Chicago made “a compelling offer in terms of sponsorships and marketing.” Sounds sort of Top-Cheffian.
After this year’s awards, where Blaine Wetzel of The Willows Inn won the prestigious Rising Star Chef award, I predicted that Best Chef: Northwest finalists Renee Erickson, Jason Franey, and Ethan Stowell would be back on the Lincoln Center stage. I still stand by the spirit of those thoughts — though I don’t know how the logistics will work if chefs are nominated for both their restaurants and their cookbooks.