Annual James Beard national culinary awards recognizes Wisconsin-based restaurants as semifinalists
The James Beard Awards are an annual celebration of food culture in the U.S. Every year, industry leaders throughout the country are nominated for national awards such as “Best Emerging Chef” or “Best New Restaurant,” and regional awards honoring local chefs and restaurants.
This year, there are Wisconsin-based semi-finalists in six categories. On Milwaukee dining editor Lori Fredrich is well familiar with the awards and the finalist and offers her expert insight on each acclaimed institution.
Outstanding Restaurant Tour: Buttermint 4195 N Oakland Ave, Shorewood, WI 53211
Fredrich says, "It strives to really encapsulate this idea of hospitality going back to the 1960s when finer dining really was born. They also move toward a style of service that makes you feel special."
Best New Restaurant in the Country: Lupi and Iris 777 N Van Buren St, Milwaukee, WI 53202
"This is fine dining. It's opulent. You're not going to find white tablecloths because it's the modern version of fine dining. Definitely a special occasion place," explains Fredrich.
Best Chef Midwest: EsterEv 360 E Erie St, Milwaukee, WI 53202
Chefs Dan Jacobs and Dan Van Rite are the co-chefs of this restaurant and are up for this award together. The establishment is located inside of DanDan (named after the two chefs), and "You have enough privacy where you can have a date, and you don't need to feel obligated to talk to the people [around you]," says Fredrich.
Best Chef Midwest: Amilinda 315 E Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202
Chef Gregory León is also up for best midwest chef. Fredrich says, "His specialty is Spanish and Portuguese [food]. And not everything on the menu screams Spanish or Portuguese. He has played with those flavors, but there's definitely a lot of influence from that."
Outstanding Restaurant: Wickman House 11976 Mink River Rd, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
The management of this establishment thought it was important to grow food locally and set a goal to have at least 50% of the food come from the area. This lofty goal was made difficult by the poor growing conditions here. But years of effort have paid off, and they are now near their goal. "They have been very, very successful in putting forward a local menu," Fredrich says. "And whether it's fish — you know, that's caught in Lake Michigan, surrounding the Door County peninsula or things that were grown by them and their gardeners."
More details about the awards can be found here.