The style guru helps six chefs get ready for the Oscars of the food industry.

By Ana Calderone
April 29, 2019 01:47 PM
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The James Beard Awards is one of the biggest nights in food, so who better than Tan France to get some of the newbie nominees red carpet ready?

In a video presented by S. Pellegrino, the style guru uses his Queer Eye techniques to help the nominees in the Rising Star Chef of the Year category—Ana Castro of Coquette in New Orleans, Alisha Elenz of MFK in Chicago, Alexander Hong of Sorrel in San Francisco, Jesse Ito of Royal Izakaya in Philadelphia, Kwame Onwuachi of Kith and Kin in Washington, D.C., and Jonathan Yao of Kato in Los Angeles—”enhance their moment in the spotlight.”

Because he’s without the rest of the Fab Five, France took on more than just the fashion to prep the chefs ahead of the ceremony, which takes place on May 6 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

“They are so passionate about what they do,” he says in the video above. “I want to collaborate with them. I want to figure out what they want to look like—what they’re hoping they could look like.”

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The chefs and their “fairy gay godmother,” as France describes himself, sit down to discuss their style, their mentors, and what it means to be nominated in the category, also presented by S. Pellegrino, which highlights talent under 30 making a significant impact on the food industry.

“It’s a huge honor to be part of the James Beard Awards,” says Ito. “It’s like the Oscars.”

Each of the outfits France picks out reflects the chefs’ individual personalities. For Yao, that means sticking to his uniform of all black, and for Castro, it involved a bright, floral top that embodies her Mexican culture. The experience was different for everyone: “I never dress up,” says Hong. “This is kind of new thing for me. Living a little bit of the whole Hollywood experience was fun because kitchen life is so different.”

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At the end, the six chefs walk out looking just as confident to take on awards night as they would be to cook for a crowded restaurant.

“It’s been an amazing experience being here today,” says Onwuachi, “and not only being with Tan but being with the other nominees.”