Tonight, the James Beard Foundation will hand out its 2016 Restaurant and Chef Awards, considered the highest honor in the North American culinary community. And if last week's White House Correspondents Dinner is playfully called "nerd prom," then the James Beard awards ceremony — starting soon at the Lyric Opera of Chicago — is chef prom where everyone's jostling to be crowned king or queen.
Here now, and until every last Beard award is handed out, Eater editors Erin DeJesus and Hillary Dixler — along with Chicago reporters on the ground — will be live-blogging the ceremony, offering not just winner updates, questionable jokes, and commentary, but also context and insight based on a look at 25 years of past awards.
But first, get yourself acquainted with the awards' quarter-century history from an early insider. Then, check out the list of the 2016 nominees and dive into Eater's data-driven predictions of which chefs will win, and the team's take on who should take home the prize.
Watch along on the official Beard livestream here, get in on the conversation by Tweeting @eater, and let's get this party started. UPDATE: The liveblog is now over, and the complete list of 2016 winners lives here.