James Beard Foundation Spreads the Love

Sadly, Niche’s Gerard Craft did not win the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Midwest. Instead it went to Tim McKee of La Belle Vie in Minneapolis. To show you something interesting, however, here are the nominees and winners over the last five years.

I have also included the 2007-2009 Best Chef: Great Lakes Region as many contenders now in that region (especially in Chicago) were part of the Midwest region through 2006. I have made bold those chefs who ultimately won, and have italicized those chefs who did not win but still dropped off the nomination list the following year.

Best Chef: Midwest (Currently: IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI)

  • 2009 Nominees: Isaac Becker, Gerard Craft, Colby Garrelts, Tim McKee, Alexander Roberts
  • 2008 Nominees: Isaac Becker, Colby Garrelts, Tim McKee, Alexander Roberts, Alex Siegel
  • 2007 Nominees: Colby Garrelts, Tim McKee, Alex Roberts, Adam Siegel, Celina Tio
  • 2006 Nominees: Jean-Robert De Cavel, Shawn McClain, Carrie Nahabedian, Brian Polcyn, Lucia Watson
  • 2005 Nominees: Sandro Gamba, Michael Kornick, Tony Mantuano, Shawn McClain, Lucia Watson

Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH)

  • 2009 Nominees: Koren Grieveson, Arun Sampanthavivat, Bruce Sherman, Michael Symon, Alex Young
  • 2008 Nominees: Graham Elliot Bowles, Carrie Nahabedian, Bruce Sherman, Michael Symon, Alex Young
  • 2007 Nominees: Grant Achatz, Carrie Nahabedian, Bruce Sherman, Michael Symon, Alex Young

Note the following:

  • Through 2006, when Chicago was included in the Midwest, they dominated.
  • Chicago still dominates the new Great Lakes Region
  • Rarely do chefs drop off the list until they’ve won
  • When they do drop off without winning, it often means they switched restaurants
  • Three chefs dropped in the 2006/2007 region-shifting, but Chicago also picked up a ringer: Grant Achatz. And really, how do you compete against that?
  • Another one of those three chefs got snubbed because of Michael Symon who, in 2005, closed his restaurant Lola and reopened it as Lolita. He then reopened Lola in a newer, fancier location in 2006, became the star we know him to be today, and subsequently showed up on the list.

So as you can see, unless some crazy bad-ass shows up in the Midwest region (and really we like to think of that as Gerard don’t we?), what that means for Chef Craft (and St. Louis) is that we’ll more than likely see his name return to the short list again next year–and hopefully until he ultimately pulls home the prestigious award.

Whatever the future brings, however, he continues to be a shining addition the the St. Louis culinary landscape. He has brought a lot of national attention to a city not typically known for it’s dining.  That’s a great thing, and I personally thank him for it.

After the jump, view an alphabetical list of all the nominees, the restaurants they were nominated for, and their new restaurants if applicable

Oh, and as a mostly unrelated side note: When I went to look at Graham Eliot’s website, just off the pic I thought, “that looks like the old Harvest on Huron space”. As it turns out, it is. I staged there in 1998 or so and it’s a really cool space. For no great reason, this now makes me want to check out Bowle’s new restaurant that much more.

You have no idea how long it took to write this post. NO IDEA!!!

2 Responses to “James Beard Foundation Spreads the Love”

  1. georgemahe Says:

    Well-researched, well-analyzed and well-done, Bill…definitely worth the 20 minutes you put into it!

  2. jaket Says:

    nice and very informative, thank you for this great article, i will vsit you regularly.

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