Baltimore chef Cindy Wolf passed over again for James Beard Award

Baltimore chef Cindy Wolf passed over again for James Beard Award

The Beard awards - think the Grammys, but for food and wine - are handed out annually for everything from best new restaurant to outstanding wine program to the top chefs.

The "Oscars of the food world" - officially known as the James Beard Awards - came to town Monday night, and a handful of Chicago's culinary rock stars went home with the coveted medallions in tow. Earlier this year, Garden Grove's Pho 79 received an America's Classics award, and was featured in a thoughtful video spotlight with other winners during the ceremony.

It was also a hard-earned victory for Greg Wade, who nabbed Outstanding Baker for his work at Publican Quality Bread. He celebrated Messina's win instead, posting on Instagram: "I know exactly why you won".

The medals were given out at Chicago's Lyric Opera, where the Beard Awards moved in 2015 after being based in NY for more than 20 years. "And, here I am, my ancestors' wildest dreams", Onwauchi said.

When Mashama Bailey of Savannah's The Grey won the Best Chef: Southeast award, she talked about the industry moving the country in the right direction. This year, however, the award went to Vishwesh Bhatt of Snackbar in Oxford, Miss. The outstanding service category featured restaurants that have been open for at least five years and demonstrate "consistency and exceptional thoughtfulness in hospitality and service". The development sparked a number of articles about how refreshing it was to see these people recognized and drove the James Beard Foundation to announce sweeping changes to guarantee diversity in future awards ceremonies.

Speeches this year kept it real, with winners talking about how uncomfortable their Spanx were, making mother-in-law jokes, reading off of iPhones, and thanking everyone from dishwashers to business partners, then promising to be back in the kitchen tomorrow.

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