It’s not the Oscars, or even the Golden Globes, because the upcoming awards event in Chicago celebrates food instead of film. On Friday, January 31, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation will host the 17th Annual Grand Chefs Gala at Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park on 200 N. Columbus Drive to recognize the city’s culinary elite with the Jean Banchet Awards for Culinary Excellence.
Since its debut in 2001, this prestigious honor is the only Chicago-based awards presentation that recognizes and rewards culinary originality and talent in the Chicagoland area. Forty-four chefs, sommeliers, mixologists, and restaurants were nominated in an open, public forum and the winners will be selected in a closed ballot vote by their peers.
The 2013 Jean Banchet nominees are:
Chef of the Year: Curtis Duffy (Grace), Carrie Nahabedian (NAHA), Paul Virant (Vie/Perennial Virant), Andrew Zimmerman (Sepia)
Pastry Chef of the Year: Lisa Bonjour (mk), Craig Harzewski (NAHA), Elissa Narow (Vie/Perennial Virant), Leigh Omilinsky (Cafe des Architectes)
Best Chef-de-Cuisine: Ali Ratcliffe-Bauer (Brindille), Andres Padilla (Topolobampo), Sean Pharr (NoMI Kitchen), Nicholas Romero (Grace)
Rising Chef of the Year: Thai Dang (Embeya), Nicole Pederson (Found), Tom Van Lente (TWO), Lee Wolen (formerly of Lobby Restaurant at the Peninsula Chicago)
Rising Pastry Chef of the Year: Dana Cree (Blackbird), Sarah Mispagel (Nightwood), Thomas Raquel (Acadia), Bobby Schaffer (Grace)
Best Sommelier: Valerie Cao (Grace), Chad Ellegood (NoMI Kitchen), Richard Hanauer (The Langham), Arthur Hon (Sepia)
Best Mixologist: Charles Joly (The Aviary), Paul McGee (Three Dots and a Dash), Danielle Pizzutillo (Embeya), Sergio Serna (The Drawing Room)
Best Restaurant Design: Balena, Boarding House, Brindille, Embeya
Best Restaurant Service: Balena, Grace, Nightwood, Sixteen
Best New Restaurant: Fat Rice, Found, Gather, Travelle, TWO
Restaurant of the Year: Acadia, Brindille, Embeya, Grace
Prior to the presentation of the Jean Banchet Awards, Chicago’s finest chefs, including Curtis Duffy, Giuseppe Tentori, and Jimmy Bannos will gather to personally prepare and present their signature dishes for the Grand Chefs Gala’s 750 guests.
Guests will also have the opportunity to bid in a live auction that will include dinner for two with all the ladies of Check Please! Amanda Puck, Alpana Singh and Catherine De Orio at Grace Restaurant for an eight to 12 course Chef's Tasting Menu with wine pairings.
Tickets and tables can be purchased by visiting the website at www.grandchefsgala.com or calling the CF Foundation at 312-236-4491.