The Big Winners, Losers, and Surprises at the 2017 James Beard Awards

The James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards gala took place in Chicago: Here’s who won the big prizes

Celebrating the best of the best of American cuisine from coast to coast.

The James Beard Foundation celebrated its 26th annual restaurant and chef awards on May 1 — honoring the most outstanding food figures, and fine dining the industry has to offer. The awards gala, which took place inside Chicago’s Lyric Theater, was hosted by Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and we have the scoop on the winners, losers, and surprises at this year’s “Oscars of the food world.”

The four biggest awards of the night honor the top-tier restaurants, chefs, and industry rookies. Michael Solomonov of Zahav in Philadelphia, as many predicted, was awarded Best Chef. Rick Bayless’ Topolobampo in Chicago was given the Outstanding Restaurant award—beating out David Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar and San Francisco’s Quince. The Rising Star Chef of the Year — which acknowledges an up-and-comer under the age of 30 was named Zachary Engel of Alon Shaya’s Shaya in New Orleans (our 2015 Restaurant of the Year). Stephen Starr’s Le Coucou in New York City was named Best New Restaurant. Starr was a double award recipient of the evening, as he also won the Outstanding Restaurateur award.

A surprise upset is 2016’s World’s Best Female Chef Dominique Crenn, who was up for the Best Chef of the West award and lost to Corey Lee of Benu in San Francisco.

As previously announced, the Who’s Who in America award was presented to multiple culinarians: Suzanne Goin (restaurateur of A.O.C. and Lucques), radio personality Evan Kleiman, Roger Berkowitz (CEO of Legal Sea Foods), Michel Nischan (award-winning chef and CEO of Wholesome Wave), and vintner Rajat Parr (Domaine de la Cote). Denise Cerreta (One World Everybody Eats) was named the JBF Humanitarian of the Year, and Nora Pouillon (Restaurant Nora) was given the coveted Lifetime Achievement award.

You can see the full list of winners here.


Check out The Chicago Tribune’s slideshow of looks from the evening.