If you've ever tried to finagle your way into Barbuto in New York City's West Village, you know it can be a challenge. The hopping restaurant has been a hit ever since it opened 12 years ago, thanks to its impeccable Italian food, simultaneously approachable and full of surprises. Now, get ready to work much harder to try brilliant Barbuto dishes like the saffron risotto with chilies and uni butter: Barbuto's chef and owner Jonathan Waxman—a Top Chef Masters alum and Recipe for Deception co-host— just won a prestigious James Beard Award for Best Chef New York City. Some of his fellow Bravo alums also fared well at the awards ceremony in Chicago on May 3, hosted by Top Chef alum Carla Hall.
Justin Devillier (pictured below) of La Petite Grocery in New Orleans won for Best Chef South. A Top Chef Season 11 alum, he's turning out exceptionally innovative, Nola-inspired dishes like fried pork loin with charred sweet corn and shisito peppers, and blue crab beignets with malt vinegar aioli.
Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo of Animal in Los Angeles, who made a guest appearance on Top Chef Season 10, are sharing the Best Chef West award, for their work launching some of the most ground-breaking new restaurants in L.A. At Animal, expect dishes like pig ear with red chili and lime; veal tongue with pickle and salmon roe; and foie gras with strawberry, rhubarb and vanilla. And check out the duo's other L.A. area restaurants, like Jon and Vinny's and Son of a Gun.
Grant Achatz, guest judge on Top Chef Season 5 and an early champion of futuristic molecular gastronomy cuisine, took home the Outstanding Restaurant award for Alinea in Chicago—even though Alinea officially considers itself "not a restaurant." What is it? It's an "improv version of dining," and the only way to truly understand what that means is to go. That's if you can get in.
Suzanne Goin of Lucques in Los Angeles, and a Top Chef guest judge on multiple seasons going way back to Season 2, won Outstanding Chef for her seasonally focused, ingredient-driven Mediterranean and Asian-inspired creations, like spring onion pancakes with maitaki, black vinegar and lime crème fraîche.
Check out the James Beard Foundation's site for the full list of winners, including all the amazingly talented regional Best Chef winners. And start booking those tables immediately.
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