An almost obsessive dedication to regional and seasonal foods has netted Dan Barber a first-ever culinary hat trick in the nation's top restaurant awards.
Barber, who is at the forefront of a movement to refocus how Americans think about sustainable food and agriculture, also was named the nation's top chef in 2009. And Blue Hill's sister restaurant, Blue Hill in New York City, was honored as the nation's best eatery in 2013.
Monday's win also marks the first time one chef has twice won outstanding restaurant.
Barber has been lauded for his "American seasonal" menus, which favor exceptional ingredients that have been carefully produced and minimally prepared. He opened the original Blue Hill in 2000 in Greenwich Village, then the Stone Barns outpost in 2004. The latter operates at the heart of a working four-season farm and education center dedicated to raising awareness of food sustainability issues.
The awards honor those who follow in the footsteps of James Beard, considered the dean of American cooking when he died in 1985. Monday's ceremony marked the foundation's 25th year of recognizing the food world's top talent. The event, held at Chicago's Lyric Opera, also was the first time it was held outside New York City. A similar gala on April 24 was held in New York for book and media awards.
Though the awards ceremony moved to Chicago, the foundation seemed to pine for New York. Most of the top tier honors went to restaurants and chefs in the Big Apple. Outstanding chef went to Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern; Christina Tosi of Momofuku took outstanding pastry chef; and best new restaurant was Markus Glocker's Batard.
Like Barber, Anthony has been praised for a fierce dedication to serving seasonal foods. In fact, he worked at Blue Hill at Stone Barns until moving to Gramercy Tavern in 2006. Two years later, the restaurant — which opened in 1994 — won the foundation's top restaurant award.
Among the outliers from the New York crowd was Chicago restaurateur Donnie Madia, owner of One Off Hospitality Group, the force behind many of the city's top restaurants, including Blackbird, avec, The Publican, The Violet Hour, Publican Quality Meats and Nico Osteria. He won top restaurateur. Jessica Largey of Manresa in Los Gatos, California, won rising star chef of the year.
The group's Lifetime Achievement award went to Richard Melman, founder of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, a Chicago-based corporation that operates more than 100 restaurants around the country.
The Humanitarian of the Year honor went to Michel Nischan, another leading chef in the sustainable food movement. In 2007, he cofounded Wholesome Wave, a Bridgeport, Connecticut, organization working to improve access to healthy, affordable fresh food.
The winners of the 2015 James Beard Foundation restaurant and chef awards announced Monday are:
NATIONAL RESTAURANT AND CHEF AWARDS
Best New Restaurant: Batard in New York City
Outstanding Baker: Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City
Outstanding Bar Program: The Violet Hour in Chicago
Outstanding Chef: Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern in New York City
Outstanding Pastry Chef: Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar in New York City
Outstanding Restaurant: Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York
Outstanding Restaurateur: Donnie Madia of One Off Hospitality Group in Chicago
Outstanding Service: The Barn at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee
Outstanding Wine Program: A16 in San Francisco
Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional: Rajat Parr of Mina Group in San Francisco
Rising Star Chef of the Year: Jessica Largey of Manresa in Los Gatos, California
RESTAURANT DESIGN AWARDS
75 Seats and Under:
Design Firm: Bureau of Architecture and Design
Designers: Tom Nahabedian and James Gorski
Project: Brindille, Chicago
76 Seats and More:
Design Firm: SOMA
Designers: Michel Abboud
Project: Workshop Kitchen + Bar, Palm Springs, California
REGIONAL CHEF AWARDS
Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH): Jonathon Sawyer of Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland
Mid-Atlantic (D.C., DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA): Spike Gjerde of Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore
Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, ND, NE, SD, WI): Gerard Craft of Niche in Clayton, Missouri
New York City (Five Boroughs): Mark Ladner of Del Posto
Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, NY STATE, RI, VT): Barry Maiden of Hungry Mother in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Northwest (AK, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY): Blaine Wetzel of The Willows Inn on Lummi Island in Lummi Island, Washington
South (AL, AR, FL, LA, MS, PR): Alon Shaya of Domenica in New Orleans
Southeast (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV): Jason Stanhope of FIG in Charleston, South Carolina
Southwest (AZ, CO, NM, OK, TX, UT): Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin
West (CA, HI, NV): Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski of State Bird Provisions in San Francisco
— Archie's Waeside in Le Mars, Iowa
Owner: Robert Rand
— Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg, Kentucky
Owners: Elizabeth and Dixon Dedman, Helen and Chuck Dedman
— Guelaguetza in Los Angeles
Owners: The Lopez Family
— Sally Bell's Kitchen in Richmond, Virginia
Owners: Martha Crowe Jones and Scott Jones
— Sevilla Restaurant in New York City
Owners: Jose Lloves and Bienvenido Alvarez
Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America
Allan Benton: Pork producer and purveyor in Madisonville, Tennessee
Dale DeGroff: Mixologist in New York City
Wylie Dufresne: Chef and restaurateur in New York City
Nathalie Dupree: Cookbook author and television personality from Charlestown, South Carolina
Maricel Presilla: Chef, restaurateur and cookbook author from Hoboken, New Jersey
Humanitarian of the Year: Michel Nischan, CEO, president and cofounder of Wholesome Wave
Lifetime Achievement Award: Richard Melman of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises in Chicago