Nominees for the Jean Banchet Awards, the organization that recognizes the local dining scene, are out. The picks include a number of Chicago's biggest restaurants and chefs, along with an exciting collection of neighborhood-focused establishments.
Acadia, Avec, George Trois and Oriole were all nominated for Restaurant of the Year. While all well-deserved, they aren’t especially surprising. But for Chef of the Year, Paul Fehribach (Big Jones), Jason Hammel (Lula Cafe, Marisol) and John Shields (Smyth and The Loyalist), were joined by Joshua Kulp and Christine Cikowski of Honey Butter Fried Chicken, Avondale’s fantastic fried chicken joint.
A few small changes were made to the categories. The Best Ethnic Restaurant award has been renamed the Best Heritage Restaurant. It reads like a list of some of my favorite restaurants in the city, including A Place By Damao, Morena's Kitchen and Rica Arepa Venezuelan Cafe. A new category called Best Counter Service was also added. It features three relatively newer places (Ava's Italian Ice, Pretty Cool Ice Cream and Tempesta Market) going up against a beloved veteran of the fried fish scene (Calumet Fisheries).
Unlike Michelin, the Jean Banchet Awards are a Chicago-based institution, named for Jean Banchet, who ran Le Francais in suburban Wheeling. Earlier this year, Monteverde won for Restaurant of the Year, while Andrew Zimmerman (Sepia, Proxi) picked up Chef of the Year.
The event will be held Jan. 13 at Venue Six10 (610 S. Michigan Ave.). Once again, it will be hosted by Michael Muser, who was just in the news when info about his and Curtis Duffy’s next restaurant was reported.
Take a look at the full list of nominees below:
Restaurant of the Year
Acadia, Avec, George Trois, Oriole
Chef of the Year
Paul Fehribach (Big Jones), Jason Hammel (Lula Cafe, Marisol), Joshua Kulp and Christine Cikowski (Honey Butter Fried Chicken), John Shields (Smyth and The Loyalist)
Rising Chef of the Year
Ian Davis (Band of Bohemia), Alisha Elenz (mfk. restaurant), Stephen Gillanders (S.K.Y.), Otto Phan (Kyōten)
Norman Fenton (Schwa), Andrew Holladay (Lula Cafe), Ryan Pfeiffer (Blackbird), Adam Zoscsak (Sepia)
Pastry Chef of the Year
Nicole Guini (Blackbird, avec), Craig Harzewski (Brindille), Sarah Mispagel (Sepia, Proxi), Chris Teixeira (Steadfast, Portsmith)
Rising Pastry Chef of the Year
Courtney Kenyon (Oriole), Natalie Saben (Pacific Standard Time), Tatum Sinclair (S.K.Y.), Elaine Townsend (Fat Rice)
Best Neighborhood Restaurant
Cellar Door Provisions, The Promontory, Kimski, Pizzeria Bebu
Best Heritage Restaurant (formerly Best Ethnic Restaurant)
A Place By Damao, Morena’s Kitchen, Rica Arepa Venezuelan Cafe, Staropolska
Best New Restaurant
Bar Biscay, Etta, Passerotto, S.K.Y.
Jamel Freeman (Bellemore), Jill Gubesch (Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Lena Brava), Christopher Harris (Entente), Aaron McManus (Oriole)
Stephanie Andrews (Billy Sunday), Olivia Duncan (Nico Osteria), Liz Pearce (The Drifter), Jay Schroeder (Todos Santos)
Best Restaurant Design
BiXi Beer, Gibsons Italia, Pacific Standard Time, Twain
Daisies, NoMI Kitchen, Shanghai Terrace, Temporis
Ludlow Liquors, Spilt Milk, Moody Tongue, Mordecai
Best Counter Service
Ava’s Italian Ice, Calumet Fisheries, Pretty Cool Ice Cream, Tempesta Market