While the Oscars can sometimes seem self-indulgent (do millionaire actors really need accolades for playing dress-up?), its restaurant industry-equivalent, the James Beard Awards, are easier to endorse — being an opportunity to show appreciation for overworked, underpaid, nose-to-the-grindstone chefs. So here’s a peek at who’s up for this year’s honors from NYC…
Best Chef, New York City: We suppose JB’s reasoning behind yet another Marco Canora inclusion (this year, at least), is that he recently healthified Hearth, and hired on the talented Karen DeMasco to rejuvenate the pastry program as well. Another nominee regular, Anita Lo, will soon shutter her West Village stalwart, Annisa; although nabbing an actual win may well be considered her lifetime achievement award. Also with a few past nods under his belt, Estela’s hotshot chef, Ignacio Mattos, is on his way to replacing the old guard, but it seems to be the season of Missy Robbins, whose slick Williamsburg trattoria, Lilia, was inundated with essentially universal, critical acclaim.
Outstanding Baker: Bien Cuit’s Zachary Golper is repping NYC yet again, making his case for best baker with small batch French breads, chocolate chai danishes, speculoos eclairs and turkey and swiss croissants.
Outstanding Pastry Chef: The fine dining standard bearer that is Daniel certainly doesn’t drop the ball during dessert, thanks to Ghaya Oliveira, who revitalizes classics like Baba au Rhum with passion fruit cake, herbal caipirinha, aloe vera and acai chantilly.
Rising Star Chef of the Year: It seems Matt Rudofker’s star is still on the rise, as he’s back on the list for Momofuku Ssäm Bar — the meat-centric, large format happy medium between hip and relaxed Momofuku Noodle Bar, and $200 tasting menu-serving Momofuku Ko.
Best New Restaurant: In this instance, at least, it seems James Beard has its finger on the pulse of NYC’s dining scene, honoring two restaurants that have been locked in an across-the-bridge battle for supremacy all year. We’re talking about Daniel Rose’s opulent Le Coucou, a French fantasia of terrine de veau, pike quenelle and rabbit prepared three ways, and Greg Baxtrom’s down-to-earth Olmsted; featuring ingredients culled from its very own backyard.
Outstanding Restaurant: On the other hand, this category consistently indicates that the JBA has its head in the sand, offering autopilot noms for Momofuku Noodle Bar (if you must namecheck David Chang, even his fast-casual Fuku is increasingly more relevant), and The Spotted Pig, which is primarily admired for its burger (and again, if you have to have April Bloomfield, at least mix it up with White Gold).
James Beard Awards
Monday, May 1, 2017
Lyric Opera of Chicago
20 N Upper Wacker Dr.