Tonight’s ceremony in Chicago named the winners of the James Beard Awards, one of the highest honors in the culinary world. After rounds of semifinalists and finalists, the winners have been announced, and the Bay Area was very well represented.
Best Chef: West
Dominique Crenn: (Atelier Crenn, Bar Crenn, and Petit Crenn) won after years of nominations. She was Eater’s pick to win in this category — see the below endorsement.
“After years as one of SF’s top chefs, Crenn has received her fifth nod from the Beard Foundation. She’s been nominated for Best Chef: West twice, and made it to the semifinalist category twice — perhaps this is the year that the phenom with a growing restaurant empire and two-Michelin-starred flagship will seal the deal. Though in good company, Crenn has been operating at the top of her game throughout the year, opening a Parisian wine bar, hiring top talent to lead her teams, and using every opportunity to speak out on gender and equality in the restaurant industry.” — Ellen Fort, Eater SF editor | All Atelier Crenn Coverage [ESF]
Belinda Leong and Michel Suas: B. Patisserie, San Francisco
Outstanding Restaurant Design (76 seats and over)
Project: In Situ, San Francisco
Firms: Aidlin Darling Design with a l m project
Designers: Joshua Aidlin, David Darling, Adam Rouse, and Andrea Lenardin Madden
Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional
Miljenko Grgich (Grgich Hills Estate, Rutherford CA)
The tone of this year’s awards was one of empowerment. In her acceptance speech, Dominique Crenn compelled the audience: “Stand up and repeat after me, ‘I rise for equality, for humanity, and Mother Earth.’” The James Beard Foundation, meanwhile, publicized its concerted effort to reward restaurants according to a metric of “respect, transparency, diversity, sustainability and equality.”
But that last winner, it bears noting, could be a choice at odds with the foundation’s stated values. As the SF Chronicle observes, Miljenko Grgich of Grgich Hills, now 95, was sued in 2003 for allegedly sexually harassing two young workers — charges he denied at the time.