Beran, Bannos Win Big At Beards

By Chuck Sudo in News on May 6, 2014 4:00PM

Chicago chefs and restaurateurs were shut out of the major categories at Monday's James Beard Awards in New York City, but a few lucky people came home with hardware for a trophy room.

Dave Beran, Executive Chef at Next, won Best Chef Great Lakes Monday night over a packed field of mostly Chicago chefs. Beran deserves the lion's share of the credit for Next's ever-shifting menu themes which have diners buying tickets to the restaurant in droves and turning Next into appointment dining.

The Purple Pig's Jimmy Bannos Jr., meanwhile, beat out a strong list of nominees including Blackbird's David Posey to win Rising Star Chef for the best chef in the country under the age of 30. Bannos has helmed the popular downtown eatery since its inception and told Tribune reporter Kevin Pang after the awards winning a Beard was the realization of a lifelong dream.

"When I was 10 years old, my dad said the 'James Beard Award is the be-all-end-all.' To actually do it now is really unbelievable. It ranks as the greatest accomplishment I've ever had."

Maria Contreras, Christopher Lawton and Micah Stanley of Lawton Stanley Architects won best restaurant design for Grace, Curtis Duffy's Michelin-starred restaurant in the West Loop. View the full list of winners here as a PDF link.