Grant Achatz, chef/owner of Alinea in Chicago, was named Best Chef in America by the James Beard Foundation at the organization's annual gala in New York City. He previously won Beard kudos as Rising Star Chef in 2003 and last year was tabbed as Best Chef/Great Lakes. The 34-year-old Achatz announced last December that his tongue cancer, which he has battled for the past couple of years, was in full remission.
As often happens, New York City-based individuals and operations captured many of the top awards. Rising Star Chef of the Year for 2008 went to Gavin Kaysen of Cafe Boulud. Gramercy Tavern was named the country's outstanding restaurant, while the NYC-based team of Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich won the outstanding restaurateur award. Eleven Madison Park was cited as having the country's most outstanding wine service, while David Chang took home the honor of New York's Best Chef.
Other key awards went to Washington, DC's Central Michael Richard for best new restaurant; San Francisco's Elisabeth Pruett and Chad Robertson, of Tartine Bakery, co-winners of outstanding pastry chef; and St. Helena, CA's Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani, whose Terra was cited for outstanding service.
The highly prestigious best regional chef awards went to:
Great Lakes: Carrie Nahabedian, Naha, Chicago.
Mid-Atlantic: Eric Ziebold, City Zen, Washington, DC.
Midwest: Adam Siegel, Bartolotta's Lake Park Bistro, Milwaukee.
Northeast: Patrick Connelly, Radius, Boston.
Northwest: Holly Smith, Cafe Juanita, Kirkland, WA
Southwest: Lachlan Mackin-non-Patterson, Frasca Food & Wine, Boulder, CO.
South: Michelle Bernstein, Michy's, Miami.
Southeast: Robert Stehling, Hominy Grill, Charleston, SC.
Pacific: Craig Stoll, Delfina, San Francisco.