118 of Chicago’s Best Restaurants, In One Chart

Every Chicago JBF Awards winner. And a lot more.

By The Editors
April 30, 2015 9:00 am

We’ve been thinking a lot about food lately.

Mostly because on May 4th, the most respected chefs in the country will descend on our city for the James Beard Awards — that black-tie bacchanalia of all things American and gustatory.

People call it the culinary equivalent of the Oscars. They are correct.

And Chicago has racked up its fair share of acceptance speeches.

To wit:

The InsideHook Compendium of Chicago’s James Beard Award Winners, a chart we prepared using hard data, industry hearsay, at least one bottle of Malört and one very exasperated art director.

See it in all of its glory below, and blow it up to legible proportions right here.

This is our guide to every local James Beard Award winner since 1991 (full list here).

The restaurants they came from. The restaurants they opened. The chefs they mentored in those restaurants. And then the restaurants those mentees, in turn, went on to open themselves.

It’s chaotic. Gratuitous. By no means complete.

Much like a kitchen during a Friday-night dinner rush.

Inside, we break down 12 award categories and their respective local winners, mapping major moves, connections and “cheffing trees.”

Like that of the late great Charlie Trotter — the farm-to-table pioneer who established Chicago as a culinary capital back in ‘87, and whose kitchen served as a training ground for latter-day virtuosos like Grant Achatz (Alinea) and Curtis Duffy (Grace).

The final bill: sixty-six chefs. One-hundred-and-eighteen restaurants.

Look at it as a celebration of the men and women past and present who make this city delicious.

Have a look around.

Then take your newfound savoir faire forth and enjoy the establishments you’ll find there.

Bon appètit.

Nota bene: The ceremony at the Lyric Opera is invite-only, but you can tune into the livestream here starting on Monday, May 4th at 6 p.m. CST.


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