Beard Awards Predictions
All right, all right. Everyone has been asking me to make my predictions for the big national James Beard Awards (and the New York chef award) tonight at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York. So, I'm going to do it. There are a couple of things everyone should know about the Beard Awards. The electorate tends to tilt toward New York chefs and restaurants and figures with a high media profile. I make my predictions with that notion in mind.
Best Chef, New York City
- Michael Anthony, Gramercy Tavern
- Terrance Brennan, Picholine
- David Chang, Momofuku Ssäm Bar
- Wylie Dufresne, WD-50
- Gabriel Kreuther, The Modern
I think it's between Chang, who I'm sure is proclaiming he is not worthy, and Wylie Dufresne, who really is moving serious food forward as much as Chang (I know that's not what the award is given for, but I wanted to say it anyway). I think Chang is going to win it, but the voters may think it's just too soon for him to get this award.
Outstanding Restaurateur Award
- Joe Bastianich/Mario Batali, Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca, New York City
- Tom Douglas, Tom Douglas Restaurants, Seattle
- Richard Melman, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Chicago
- Wolfgang Puck, The Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, Beverly Hills
- Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Jean-Georges Management, New York City
I think the Babbo boys are going to win it, but Puck could just as easily take it. He certainly has a huge national profile.
Outstanding Restaurant Award
This is a restaurant in the United States that serves as a national standard-bearer for consistent quality and excellence in food, atmosphere, and service. Candidates must have been in operation for at least ten consecutive years.
- Boulevard, San Francisco; chef/owner, Nancy Oakes; owner, Pat Kuleto
- Campanile, Los Angeles; chef/owner, Mark Peel
- Gramercy Tavern, New York; owner, Danny Meyer
- Jean Georges, New York; chef/owner, Jean-Georges Vongerichten
- The Slanted Door, San Francisco; chef/owner, Charles Phan
I think either Gramercy Tavern or Jean Georges is going to win this award. In the past James Beard judges have shown they love Danny Meyer and have profound respect for Jean Georges. I'm going to go with Gramercy Tavern.
Best New Restaurant
A restaurant opened in 2007 that already displays excellence in food, beverage, and service and is likely to have a significant impact on the industry in years to come.
- Anthos, New York; chef/owner, Michael Psilakis; owner: Donatella Arpaia
- Central Michel Richard, Washington, D.C.; chef/owner, Michel Richard
- Fearing's at the Ritz Carlton, Dallas; chef/owner, Dean Fearing, The Ritz-Carlton
- Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles; chef, Matt Molina; owners, Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali, Joseph Bastianich
- Osteria, Philadelphia; chef/owners, Marc Vetri, Jeff Michaud; owner, Jeff Benjamin
This is the strongest candidate list for this award in recent memory. I've eaten at every one of these restaurants except for Osteria, and having eaten Vetri's food in Philly and New York I have no doubt that Osteria is a worthy contender. I'm going to go with Osteria Mozza, but Anthos, Fearing's, and Central Michel Richard could all possibly win.