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James Beard Winners Announced

By Erin in Food on May 10, 2006 7:30PM

Color us not too shocked.

Monday night's James Beard Awards 2006_05_awardslogo.gifwere handed out in New York City, and Chicago's Shawn McClain took home the Best Chef: Midwest prize, beating out Naha's Carrie Nahabedian for the coveted award. McClain won for his work at Spring. Other Chicagoans weren't so lucky. Poor Grant: Danny Meyer over at NYC's The Modern beat him out for Best New Restaurant and Thomas Keller's famed French Laundry whupped both Jean Joho's Everest and Levy's Spiaggia for Outstanding Restaruant. Richard Melman of Lettuce Entertain You walked home empty handed, too, in the Outstanding Restaurateur category. Better luck next time, kids.

Other local winners from last night include ABC 7's Steve Dolinsky in the national/local television food segment and Evanston's own Isabella and Olivia Gerasole for their work at in the new webcast category. The fact that these two are knee-high to a pig's eye makes the award all the more sweeter. Plus it's a darn good site. And Dolinsky is just a Beard-winning machine, and rightfully so. Seriously. This was his 12th James Beard.

In other chef news, the locals won't leave the foie gras thing alone though we at Chicagoist are not passing judgement. At the heart of Chicago Chefs For Choice - spawned as a result of the recent city ordinance banning the duck liver delicacy - is a legitimate concern that they have in terms of protecting their "... interests as restaurateurs, retailers, and suppliers from personal moral campaigns on products that are legally produced in this country," as Copperblue's Michael Tsonton told Chicago Magazine. In fact, Tsonton and Cyrano's Bistrot's Didier Durand, who are at the helm of the movement, are questioning the constitutionality of the ordinance. Will it fly?

Lastly, Graham Elliot Bowles, executive chef at Avenues in the Peninsula Hotel - who lost out on the Beard's Rising Star Chef category - is offering up a foie gras tasting menu where 10 of the 12 courses will feature foie gras in response to the ban. Now, we like foie gras as much as the next person but we could do without that much duck liver, especially when it's been frozen and whirred into a powder, as reported by the Sun-Times. Bowles will be serving the menu - for the bargain-basement price of $238 - until the ban goes into effect.

Maybe it's just Chicagoist, but for that price Bowles had best come out and Disco Duck right on our tables for us.