The James Beard Foundation is getting into a Chicago state of mind.
James Beard medal

The James Beard Foundation is getting into a Chicago state of mind.

For the first time in a quarter century, the culinary non-profit will move its annual awards ceremony out of the Big Apple and to the Windy City, with the ceremony to be held at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on May 4, 2015.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel was joined by James Beard Foundation (JBF) president Susan Ungaro, and representatives from tourism organization Choose Chicago and the Illinois Restaurant Association to announce the decision. Also attending were more than 30 chefs, including previous James Beard award winners like Rick Bayless, Jimmy Bannos, Jr. and Stephanie Izard.

“The James Beard Foundation has enjoyed a special friendship with the city of Chicago for decades. It’s a city that boasts over 40 James Beard Award winners, as well as a special community of chefs and restaurateurs who have always supported the work of our Foundation,” said Ungaro in a statement. She also mentioned that the move was “consistent with our mission to honor excellence all across America.” This year, Jimmy Bannos, Jr. of Chicago’s Purple Pig restaurant was one of two recipients of the Rising Star Chef of the Year award.

This isn’t the first time the JBF has planned an awards-related event in Chicago. Events for the nominations announcements have been held at Frontera Grill, one of Bayless’ restaurants, in 2009 and more recently at The Publican, a Paul Kahan-owned restaurant in the West Loop neighborhood, in March.

—Lexi Dwyer

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