Thursday, November 17, 2011

'Best Mixologist,' 'Best New Restaurant' Categories Added To Banchet Awards

Josh Pearson of Sepia; Lynn House of Blackbird.

The 15th annual Grand Chefs Gala happens Jan. 27, and one of the highlights will be the Jean Banchet Awards ceremony, which rewards top talent on the local dining scene. But new this year are the "Best Mixologist" and "Best New Restaurant" categories, which should be hotly contested races.

Also new was that for the first time in the award's 11-year history, the nomination process was opened to the public through online voting. The winners will be chosen by all nominees as well as the chefs that participate in the 2012 Grand Chefs Gala.

Here are the nominees:

Chef of the Year: Ryan LaRoche, NoMI Kitchen; Dan Pancake, Autre Monde; Giuseppe Tentori, GT Fish & Oyster; Andrew Zimmerman, Sepia

Pastry Chef of the Year: Bryce Caron, Blackbird; Meg Galus, NoMI; Amanda Rockman, The Bristol; Cindy Schuman, Sepia

Best Chef-de-Cuisine: Dave Beran, Next; Sean Pharr, NoMI; David Posey, Blackbird; Brian Runge, Graham Elliot

Rising Chef of the Year: Chris Curren, Blue 13; Danny Grant, RIA; Chris Macchia, Coco Pazzo; Paul Dobroski, Everest

Rising Pastry Chef of the Year: Aya Fukai, RIA; Sarah Jordan, BOKA; Stephanie Mazzone, Coco Pazzo; Kady Yon, Pump Room at Public Chicago

Best Sommelier: Scott Harny, Eno at the Intercontinental; Michael Muser, Peninsula Chicago; Dan Pilkey, RIA; Aaron Sherman, NoMI

Best Mixologist: Stephen Cole, Barrelhouse Flat; Lynn House, Blackbird; Debbi Peek, The Bristol; Josh Pearson, Sepia

Best New Restaurant: Autre Monde; GT Fish & Oyster; Next; Vera

Best Neighborhood Restaurant: Autre Monde; The Bristol; Maude's Liquor Bar; Vera

Best Fine Dining: Blue 13; Coco Pazzo; Next; Sepia

Best Catering Company: BOKA Catering; Catering by Michaels; Entertaining Company; Limelight

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