Jun 10, 2024 - News

James Beard Awards serve up glamor

two guys in suits

Boka Group co-founder Kevin Boehm with chef Marcus Samuelsson at the 2022 Beard Awards. Samuelsson will be one of this year's hosts. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

A weekend of foodie parties, panel discussions and leadership and media awards culminates Monday night with the James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards at the Civic Opera House.

Why it matters: The awards, often called the Oscars of food, bring glamor, tourism dollars and a big national spotlight to the city to highlight one of our biggest strengths.

Backstory: New York hosted the awards for decades before former Mayor Rahm Emanuel negotiated a deal to bring them here in 2015. They have since been extended to 2027.

Catch up quick: Chicago has four restaurants in the running for the Best Chef Great Lakes (Esmé and Indienne), Outstanding Hospitality (Lula Cafe) and Outstanding Pastry Chef (Elske) awards.

man in a tux
Chef Jason Hammel's Lula Cafe is nominated for Outstanding Hospitality at Monday night's Beard Awards. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

State of play: In previous years, the awards struggled with controversies over equity in representation and how ethical complaints around some of their nominees have been handled.

  • But this year, things are going much more smoothly.

How to watch: Check out our Axios red carpet livestream on Instagram at 4pm and then the actual awards show inside the opera house starting at 6pm on this Eater livestream.

What we're watching: Monica can't wait to talk to Lifetime Achievement honoree writer Ruth Reichl, and see chef Art Smith walk the red carpet in a Chicago Hounds-green outfit that he tells Axios was made by the "same person who designs clothes for Elton."

  • Carrie will see if the red carpet looks are as hot as last year's, and if Lula wins for hospitality.
  • Justin wants to know what the city is doing to get the awards to extend their contract with Chicago beyond 2027.
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