The Jean Banchet Awards for Culinary Excellence has announced the nominees for its 2020 awards, which recognize culinary originality and talent in the Chicago area.
The winners across 15 categories — including Chef of the Year, Restaurant of the Year, Best New Restaurant and others — will be announced at the Jan. 19 Jean Banchet Awards, an event that benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
“Winning a Jean Banchet Award is often a predictor of even bigger accolades and national awards to come,” said Michael Muser, who will be emceeing the award show for the fifth year in a row. Muser is chief of operations for Chicago’s Ever restaurant.
Here are the nominees:
Chef of the Year, presented by S.Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water & Acqua Panna Natural Spring Water
Honoring culinary excellence and advancing the state of Chicago dining and the industry.
- Christine Cikowski and Joshua Kulp (Honey Butter Fried Chicken)
- John Manion (El Che Steakhouse & Bar, La Sirena Clandestina)
- Anna and David Posey (Elske)
- Erick Williams (Virtue Restaurant & Bar)
Previous winner: Jason Hammel (Lula Cafe, Marisol)
Restaurant of the Year, presented by the Illinois Restaurant Association
Honoring the standout restaurant of the year. (Nominees must have opened prior to December 2017.)
- mfk. restaurant
Previous winner: George Trois
Rising Chef of the Year
Honoring the most exciting talent to have arrived on the scene within the last two years.
- Larry Feldmeier (the Albert)
- Jess Galli (Middle Brow Bungalow)
- Justin Moser (Table, Donkey and Stick)
- Jose Sosa (Gibsons Italia)
Previous winner: Alisha Elenz (mfk. Restaurant)
Best New Restaurant
Honoring the most exciting new restaurant. (Nominees must have opened since November 2017.)
Previous winner: S.K.Y.
Best Chef-de-Cuisine, presented by Sparrow Coffee Roastery
Honoring the names of tomorrow doing exceptional work in Chicago’s restaurants.
- Justin Kaialoa (The Bristol)
- Brianna Meyers (BOKA)
- Mariya Russell (Kumiko | Kikkō)
- Sahil Sethi (ROOH)
Previous winner: Ryan Pfeiffer (Blackbird)
Pastry Chef of the Year
Honoring the standouts who create the endings that ensure meals are memorable.
- Jared Bacheller (Entente)
- Craig Harzewski (Brindille)
- Leigh Omilinsky (Bellemore, Cold Storage, Swift & Sons)
- Chris Teixeira (The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group)
Previous winner: Nicole Guini (Blackbird)
Rising Pastry Chef of the Year, presented by Nielsen-Massey Vanillas
Honoring the rising talents in the world of pastry and dessert.
- Juan Gutierrez (Longman & Eagle)
- Amanda Hogue (Monteverde)
- Jacquelyn Lopez (NoMI Kitchen)
- Tatum Sinclair (S.K.Y.)
Previous winner: Elaine Townsend (Fat Rice)
Best Neighborhood Restaurant
Honoring the restaurants that help define their neighborhoods with excellence in food and service.
- Café Marie – Jeanne
- Le Sud
- Munno Pizzeria & Bistro
Previous winner: Pizzeria Bebu
Best Heritage Restaurant
Honoring the restaurants working within a cultural tradition and heritage.
- Bayan Ko
- Cafe Istanbul
- La Mom Kitchen
- Xocome Antojeria
Previous winner: A Place BY DAMAO
Best Counter Service
Honoring casual dining experiences that stand out in creativity and execution.
- Publican Quality Meats
Previous winner: Calumet Fisheries
Honoring the most exceptional and innovative establishments in beverage service.
- Bar Sótano
- Red & White Wine Bar
Previous winner: Moody Tongue
Best Bartender, presented by Breakthru Beverage Illinois
Honoring the most creative and outstanding talents in preparing and serving beverages.
- Kevin Beary (The Bamboo Room at Three Dots and a Dash)
- Roger Landes and Lanie Bayless (Bar Sótano)
- Juanjo Pulgarin (Vajra)
- Lee Zaremba (Lazy Bird)
Previous winner: Stephanie Andrews (Billy Sunday)
Honoring the wine professional who stands out for the best program and presentation.
- Marie Cheslik (Elske)
- Aaron McManus (Oriole)
- Richie Ribando (Smyth)
- Matthew Sussman (Table, Donkey and Stick)
Previous winner: Jill Gubesch (Frontera Group)
Best Restaurant Service
Honoring the establishment providing the highest level of welcoming and helpful service.
- Gibsons Italia
- Naoki Sushi
Previous winner: Temporis
Best Restaurant Design
Honoring the most creative and impressive design for a restaurant or other establishment.
- Cabra Cevicheria
- Machine: Engineered Dining & Drink
- Virtue Restaurant & Bar
Previous winner: Pacific Standard Time
The Jean Banchet Culinary Achievement Award
Honoring a career in excellence and support of the Chicago restaurant community.
2020 Honoree: Chef Ina Pinkney (Ina’s)