This Monday, chefs, restaurateurs, and various industry insiders will gather in Chicago for the James Beard Awards, considered among the highest honors in the American food world. Here now, a look at who should win, as selected by Eater’s national and local editors, and who is most likely to win, based on data Eater has gathered from the last 11 years.
As in years past, this current crop of contenders features many who have been nominated for the same awards before. Stephen Starr has never won Outstanding Restaurateur despite earning a semifinalist and/or finalist nod every year since 2008, which is remarkable — and if Eater’s unbroken streak of endorsements is enough of a signifier, he’s long overdue. It’s also bemusing to see Michelin-honored, internationally known chefs like Corey Lee and Dominique Crenn still battling it out in the regional chef category. For new blood, look to the Rising Star Chef and Best New Restaurant categories; year to year, the chef nominations just seem repetitive.
But for chefs with multiple nominations, repetition is more feature than bug. Eater crunched the numbers, and for chefs in the Outstanding Chef, Rising Star Chef, and regional Best Chef categories, the number of nominations (specifically, fewer than four) is correlated with winning. Sadly, but in no way surprisingly, gender is also a huge factor: 82 percent of James Beard winners in the Outstanding, Rising Star, and Best Chef categories have been men, making winners five times more likely to be male than female. On top of that, most winners come from large cities, shutting out small-town chefs.
A note on our methods: Eater data visualization reporter Vince Dixon looked at data from the past 12 James Beard Foundation restaurant and chef awards to probe the winners. He used these trends to identify some specific factors that past winners have in common, such as age, number of times nominated, and gender. He then used those factors to find the odds of how likely the chefs are to win, which are presented graphically throughout this piece.
Of course, it’s the more than 300 insiders whose votes ultimately choose the winners. As groups of humans are wont to do, they will inevitably break some of their self-created patterns at times, and stick close to them at others.
Here’s Eater’s take on the 2017 James Beard Awards. Follow along with us on Monday to see how it shakes out.
Gabrielle Hamilton, Prune, NYC
David Kinch, Manresa, Los Gatos, CA
Christopher Kostow, the Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, CA
Donald Link, Herbsaint, New Orleans
Michael Solomonov, Zahav, Philadelphia
Eater endorses: Gabrielle Hamilton
“All of these chefs cook incredible food, each in their own way. But what we’re looking for here is the chef who has ‘set national industry standards’ and ‘served as an inspiration to other food professionals,’ and I think Gabrielle Hamilton edges out the other contenders on those fronts. Her cooking is powerful, graceful, seemingly effortless and deceivingly simple. She’s inspiring not just in the style of her food or the hospitality of her restaurant but in who she is and what she represents as a national figure. Through her column, her memoir, her Mind of a Chef season, she relays her devotion to pleasure and her commitment to quality, all wrapped in a wild sense of humor and strong dose of humility. Any one of these chefs deserves to win. But it should go to her.” — Amanda Kludt, Eater editor-in-chief | All Prune Coverage [ENY]
“If men weren’t almost six times as likely to win Outstanding Chef than women, Gabrielle Hamilton would, statistically speaking, have this category in the bag. But that one factor puts her as one of the least likely candidates this year. The data shows Michael Solomonov has the highest chances instead. What sets the Zahav chef apart from the other male candidates is where he’s from: Since 2005, only two chefs from the mid-Atlantic region have won Outstanding Chef. Meanwhile, no chef from the South has won in the last 12 years, giving New Orleans-based Donald Link the lowest odds.” — Vince Dixon, Eater data visualization reporter
Rising Star Chef of the Year
Camille Cogswell, Zahav, Philadelphia
Zachary Engel, Shaya, New Orleans
Matt Rudofker, Momofuku Ssäm Bar, NYC
Jenner Tomaska, Next, Chicago
Brady Williams, Canlis, Seattle
Eater endorses: Zachary Engel
“Zachary Engel has a way of being around when restaurants win James Beard Awards, and that can’t be a coincidence. He worked at Zahav when its chef/owner Michael Solomonov won the Beard for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic, and he was at Shaya last year when it clinched Best New Restaurant. Engel’s still in the kitchen at Shaya, making sure each dish comes out the way it should and, importantly, ensuring that the restaurant is telling a story with its food. He is a big part of the reason America has started to rethink its relationship with falafel and hummus.” — Stephanie Carter, Eater NOLA editor | All Shaya Coverage [ENOLA]
“Most Rising Star Chef winners win on their first or second nominations, more often on their second. Most are also nominated the year prior. With this in mind, Matt Rudofker takes the lead in this category. Jenner Tomaska was nominated last year, too, but hails from Chicago, home to only one other winner since 2005. Meanwhile, Rudofker is based in New York City, like four other winners. The other nominees are first-time finalists. Data suggests Camille Cogswell has the lowest chances because most past winners have been male, who are four times as likely to win in this category than women.” — V.D.
Best New Restaurant
In Situ, San Francisco
Le Coucou, NYC
Olmsted, Brooklyn, NY
Pineapple and Pearls, Washington, D.C.
Tartine Manufactory, San Francisco
Eater endorses: Tartine Manufactory
“There’s no gimmick here, no tricks, but yes, there is often a line. The daytime menu is elevated but comforting, highlighting fantastic baking — especially the cakes. But it’s at dinner where the true powers of the Tartine Manufactory vision manifest, as in a smoky wood-roasted prime rib, vadouvan-laced carrots generously topped with Castelvetrano olives, and all sorts of expertly made breads, some served only with cultured butter, others dressed to the nines with zingy mustard and uni or creamy cloumage and tobiko.” — Hillary Dixler, Eater senior editor | All Tartine Manufactory Coverage [ESF]
Ken Forkish, Ken’s Artisan Bakery, Portland, OR
Mark Furstenberg, Bread Furst, Washington, D.C.
Zachary Golper, Bien Cuit, Brooklyn, NY
Belinda Leong and Michel Suas, B. Patisserie, San Francisco
Greg Wade, Publican Quality Bread, Chicago
Eater endorses: Belinda Leong and Michel Suas
“I stand by my recommendation from the past two years: Belinda Leong and Michel Suas deserve national recognition for the breadth, creativity, and consistency of their work. Both Leong and Suas have evolved their craft into a bakery setting after years of managing dessert menus at fine-dining restaurants, and their attention to detail yields truly prize-worthy results. By now, most of the country has heard about their stunning kouign amann — available in half a dozen seasonal flavors. Thanks to their hard work, B. Patisserie remains one of the best bakeries and pastry shops in the country.” — Daniela Galarza, Eater senior editor | All B. Patisserie Coverage [ESF]
Outstanding Bar Program
Arnaud’s French 75 Bar, New Orleans
Bar Agricole, San Francisco
Clyde Common, Portland, OR
Cure, New Orleans
The Dead Rabbit, NYC
Eater endorses: Arnaud’s French 75 Bar
For the third year, Eater recommends Arnaud’s French 75 Bar in New Orleans for Outstanding Bar Program. The award honors not only excellent drinks and service, but also the all-around experience, and Arnaud’s is a New Orleans icon — one that’s steeped in history but continues to put out excellent cocktails to this day. It’s a must-try for visitors and a go-to for locals, and it deserves the win. | All Arnaud's French 75 Bar Coverage [ENOLA]
Outstanding Pastry Chef
Kelly Fields, Willa Jean, New Orleans
Maura Kilpatrick, Oleana, Cambridge, MA
Margarita Manzke, République, Los Angeles
Dolester Miles, Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham, AL
Ghaya Oliveira, Daniel, NYC
Eater endorses: Margarita Manzke
‘Margarita Manzke is quietly making the most consistently great desserts and pastry in Los Angeles at Republique. Everything from the breads and morning viennoiseries to plated dishes exude quality, all the more impressive considering the legacy of the space as Nancy Silverton’s original La Brea Bakery. Manzke’s dinnertime desserts, from the decadent salted-caramel chocolate cake to the vanilla panna cotta with tangerine granita and grapefruit sorbet, might never make it into a cookbook or trend piece, but they always manage to satisfy the soul.” — Matthew Kang, Eater LA editor | All Republique Coverage [ELA]
Frasca Food and Wine, Boulder, CO
Highlands Bar and Grill, Birmingham, AL
Momofuku Noodle Bar, NYC
Quince, San Francisco
The Spotted Pig, NYC
Eater endorses: Quince and Momofuku Noodle Bar
“Now, at a time when it seems like everyone is obsessed with California, is the right time to give the award to Quince. The restaurant, which earned its third Michelin star this year, is operating at the top of its game. Chef Michael Tusk partnered with a farm to grow ingredients specifically for his kitchens, leaning fully into the California culinary lifestyle. But it’s not for show: His dedication shines through in the meticulously executed dishes served with some of San Francisco’s best hospitality.” — Ellen Fort, Eater SF editor | All Quince Coverage [ESF]
Since Eater started publishing these endorsements, Momofuku Noodle Bar has been the pick for this category, and still hasn’t won the award. Eater chief critic Ryan Sutton’s 2015 assessment still persuades: “It’s hard to think of a more influential restaurant than David Chang’s Noodle Bar, which served as a launching point for the larger Momofuku empire, and countless other ‘haute-casual’ restaurants. It made so many of us care more about using better-sourced ingredients and humanely raised meats in cuisines previously regarded as ‘ethnic’ or ‘cheap.’ And even though Noodle Bar convinced us to pay more for snack fare, it also, somewhat paradoxically, helped kick off our modern ‘budget gourmet’ movement, serving ambitious small plates in a stripped-down setting at lower-than-expected prices." | All Momofuku Noodle Bar Coverage [ENY]
Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz, Boka Restaurant Group, Chicago (Boka, Girl & the Goat, Momotaro, and others)
JoAnn Clevenger, Upperline, New Orleans
Ken Oringer, Boston (Uni, Toro, Coppa, and others)
Stephen Starr, Starr Restaurants, Philadelphia (Le Coucou, Serpico, Upland, and others)
Caroline Styne, the Lucques Group, Los Angeles (Lucques, a.o.c., Tavern, and others)
Eater endorses: Stephen Starr
“It’s unbelievable that Stephen Starr has never won this award despite four previous nominations and five semifinalist nods. Morimoto and Buddakan might rub Beard Award voters the wrong way, but these are enduring businesses with a degree of success that is award-worthy. And Starr now routinely partners with some of the most exciting chefs in the game, creating dynamic restaurants like Serpico and Upland. Le Coucou, a great example of the power of combining culinary talent (in this case Daniel Rose’s) with Starr’s expert operations chops, earned a nod for Best New Restaurant. Give Starr the damned award.” — H.D. | All Le Coucou Coverage [ENY]
Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, NY
Galatoire’s Restaurant, New Orleans
Terra, St. Helena, CA
Eater endorses: Blue Hill at Stone Barns
“You don’t get into this category unless your service is great — this is basically the how-good-is-your-FOH award — but it’s Galatoire’s and Blue Hill at Stone Barns where the experience of interacting with your server is truly part of the art. At both places servers function as your spirit guide, therapist, and cheerleader, but they’ve been doing that (and with the same kitschy-fun schtick) at Galatoire’s for decades — so I’ve got to hand this one to Blue Hill at Stone Barns. There, the ultra-knowledgeable, ultra-attentive, ultra-relaxed service crew never veer into being too precious, and are setting the standard for the future of fine dining.” — Helen Rosner, Eater executive editor | All Blue Hill at Stone Barns Coverage [ENY]
Outstanding Wine Program
Benu, San Francisco
Emeril’s New Orleans
FIG, Charleston, SC
Miller Union, Atlanta
Eater endorses: FIG
“Heavily lauded for its cuisine, FIG also offers one of the most unique wine lists in Charleston. The restaurant consistently leads the way in bringing in smaller varietals, interesting labels, and hard-to-source bottles, while surrounded by eateries leaning heavily on cabernet and pinot grigio. FIG does an excellent job of educating servers to know how to match guests’ tastes to each pour, even for diners who feel intimidated when it comes time to talk bottles.” — Erin Perkins, Eater Charleston editor | All FIG Coverage [ECHS]
Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional
Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE
Diane Flynt, Foggy Ridge Cider, Dugspur, VA
Miljenko Grgich, Grgich Hills Estate, Rutherford, CA
Aldo Sohm, Zalto Glass, NYC
Rob Tod, Allagash Brewing Company, Portland, ME
Eater endorses: Aldo Sohm
“Aldo Sohm is wine director at Le Bernardin, one of the city’s fanciest French restaurants, but he wants everyone to drink well. At his eponymous (and more affordable) wine bar next door, he serves every pour of sherry or wine in Zalto stems, the light-as-air glasses that make imbibing a more pleasurable experience — and the same glasses that too many wine directors elsewhere reserve for the most expensive bottles. You’ll now encounter those stems everywhere, but if you’re an avid wine drinker in New York, you probably tried Zalto at the hands of Aldo Sohm first. And then you went out and paid $120 for a set.” — R.S. | All Aldo Sohm Coverage [ENY]
Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH)
Abraham Conlon, Fat Rice, Chicago
Sarah Grueneberg, Monteverde, Chicago
Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark, Parachute, Chicago
Lee Wolen, Boka, Chicago
Erling Wu-Bower, Nico Osteria, Chicago
Eater endorses: Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark
“Chicago chefs swept the nominees again for good reason — all of them are deserving of a Beard Award. But it’s about time Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark get it, after missing out on Best New Restaurant two years ago and this award last year. Their food, and the restaurant as a whole, is one of the most unique and influential offerings in the country, hands down.” — Daniel Gerzina, Eater Chicago editor | All Parachute Coverage [ECHI]
“In Chicago, the bid for Best Chef is a close race between three of the finalists: Abraham Conlon, Lee Wolen, and Erling Wu-Bower. Women are less likely than men to win this category, so Sarah Grueneberg comes in as the fourth likeliest to win. But couples also have a hard time winning (only 25 percent of duos nominated in the last 10 years have won), making Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark least likely to take home the prize.” — V.D.
Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (D.C., DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA)
Amy Brandwein, Centrolina, Washington, D.C.
Tom Cunanan, Bad Saint, Washington, D.C.
Rich Landau, Vedge, Philadelphia
Greg Vernick, Vernick Food & Drink, Philadelphia
Cindy Wolf, Charleston, Baltimore
Eater endorses: Amy Brandwein
“Chef and restaurateur Amy Brandwein is redefining what it means to be a leader in the nation’s capital. Centrolina, her combination gourmet market and fine-dining establishment, caters to virtually any need, be it a hard-boiled-egg-filled muffin and robust espresso in the morning, a snack of peppery salumi and pungent taleggio in the afternoon, or house-made pastas bolstered by tender rabbit, stinging nettles, and milky burrata at dinner. She’s surrounded herself with a who’s who of talented women, and doesn’t shy away from taking political stances — as was the case when she opened her business to those in town for the Women’s March on Washington." — Warren Rojas, Eater DC editor | All Centrolina Coverage [EDC]
“Eighty percent of Best Chef winners were nominated the year before. This puts Cindy Wolf, Rich Landau, and Greg Vernick in good positions, but Wolf’s gender lowers her odds. She’s also been been nominated six times, while almost all winners win by their third nomination. This leaves Landau and Vernick in the lead, with equal chances.” — V.D.
Best Chef: Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI)
Steven Brown, Tilia, Minneapolis
Justin Carlisle, Ardent, Milwaukee
Jorge Guzman, Brewer’s Table at Surly Brewing Co., Minneapolis
Kevin Nashan, Sidney Street Cafe, St. Louis
Kevin Willmann, Farmhaus, St. Louis
Eater endorses: Steven Brown
“Few chefs command the kind of reverence from diners and industry insiders as Steven Brown. His deceptively simple fare belies the depth of flavor and sublime satisfaction one achieves when dining in his Minneapolis neighborhood bistro. Just taste his outrageously good meatballs to understand: bright, spicy, soulful, herb-flecked, and garlic-smacked. His dishes are a successful tightrope walk of balanced flavors.” — Joy Summers, Eater Twin Cities editor | All Steven Brown Coverage [ETC]
“The Best Chef: Midwest race is tight between three nominees. This is the first nomination for Steven Brown and Jorge Guzman, which gives them much lower odds than their co-finalists.” — V.D.
Best Chef: New York City
Marco Canora, Hearth
Anita Lo, Annisa
Ignacio Mattos, Estela
Missy Robbins, Lilia, Brooklyn, NY
Jody Williams, Buvette Gastrothèque
Eater endorses: Ignacio Mattos
“Ignacio Mattos and his crew maintain an allure at Estela with an enthralling wine list, a display of culinary skill, and engaging plates that don’t feel overly composed. His cooking shows off a sweet spot between his Francis Mallmann and Alice Waters background that feels uniquely his and more modern than ever.” — Melissa McCart, Eater NY editor | All Estela Coverage [ENY]
“This year three women are nominated for Best Chef: New York City, but historically, odds have favored men. Thanks to the gender gap, Marco Canora takes a very strong lead. Unlike fellow male solo chef Ignacio Mattos, Canora was nominated last year, which boosts his odds. This is also Canora’s third nomination, and Eater data suggests most winners snag the medal by their third time, which means this could be Canora’s best shot to win this category.” — V.D.
Best Chef: Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, NY State, RI, VT)
Karen Akunowicz, Myers + Chang, Boston
Cassie Piuma, Sarma, Somerville, MA
Susan Regis, Shepard, Cambridge, MA
Benjamin Sukle, Birch, Providence, RI
Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley, Eventide Oyster Co., Portland, ME
Eater endorses: Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley
“Looking at this year’s nominees is serious deja vu: Karen Akunowicz, Andrew Taylor, and Mike Wiley have been up for the same award the last two years; Susan Regis was a nominee last year; and Cassie Piuma was a nominee the year before. So, my difficulty in making an endorsement is twofold: It feels like the same people every time, and, frankly, they’re all fantastic. I’d be thrilled to see any of them win. That said, I’m going to endorse Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley, just as I did last year and the year before. I really think it’s their year (third time’s the charm?) considering their continued acclaim, empire-building, and ever-increasing following. Here in Boston, their forthcoming Eventide Fenway is among the most highly anticipated openings in recent memory, and that’s saying a lot for a restaurant that’s slated to be a casual, counter-service spot." — Rachel Leah Blumenthal, Eater Boston editor | All Eventide Oyster Co. Coverage [EME]
“The Northeast bid comes down to Susan Regis and Benjamin Sukle, with Karen Akunowicz close behind. Regis and Akunowicz’s gender decrease their odds, putting them slightly behind Sukle, but who knows: The Beards may start to recognize more female chefs. Unfortunately for Cassie Piuma, this wouldn’t help her much, statistically speaking: Most chefs who win Best Chef come from large cities that consistently get nominations, but Piuma is based in Somerville, Massachusetts, a city never nominated before. Duos are less likely to win than solo finalists, so that puts Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley behind Sukle, Regis, and Akunowicz." — V.D.
Best Chef: Northwest (AK, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY)
Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton, Ox, Portland, OR
Edouardo Jordan, Salare, Seattle
Katy Millard, Coquine, Portland, OR
Justin Woodward, Castagna, Portland, OR
Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi, Joule, Seattle
Eater endorses: Justin Woodward
“I really hope chef Justin Woodward wins for his equally innovative and artistic tasting menus at Castagna. For years, he’s exhibited the high level of modernist cooking that’s currently having its heyday in Portland. Woodward also pays as close attention to which local ingredients are at their peak as any chef in the Pacific Northwest. He had me at the first dried-pepper roll-up (like a Fruit Roll-Up, only made of capsicum), which came wrapped around fresh springtime goat cheese.” — Mattie John Bamman, Eater PDX editor | All Castagna Coverage [EPDX]
“Competing against two duos and a female chef gives Justin Woodward very high odds. On top of that, he was nominated last year, while Edouardo Jordan is competing in this category for the first time, giving him slightly lower odds.” — V.D.
Best Chef: South (AL, AR, FL, LA, MS, Puerto Rico)
Vishwesh Bhatt, Snackbar, Oxford, MS
Nina Compton, Compère Lapin, New Orleans
Jose Enrique, Jose Enrique, San Juan, PR
Slade Rushing, Brennan’s, New Orleans
Rebecca Wilcomb, Herbsaint, New Orleans
Eater endorses: Nina Compton
“Nina Compton combines the food of the Caribbean with the flavors of New Orleans, which fits seamlessly into the cuisine of the so-called northernmost Caribbean city. Compton could have continued to ride her success from Top Chef, but she moved to New Orleans and created a restaurant that contributes meaningfully to the cuisine of the Crescent City and to the inevitable evolution of its revered culinary canon.” — S.C. | All Compère Lapine Coverage [ENOLA]
“Slade Rushing has the best chances of winning Best Chef: South. He’s male, he was nominated last year, and, critically, he’s from New Orleans, home to 64 percent of the category’s past winners.” — V.D.
Best Chef: Southeast (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV)
John Fleer, Rhubarb, Asheville, NC
Edward Lee, 610 Magnolia, Louisville, KY
Steven Satterfield, Miller Union, Atlanta
Ryan Smith, Staplehouse, Atlanta
Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman, Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, Memphis
Eater endorses: Ryan Smith
“Steven Satterfield has been a Best Chef: Southeast nominee five years running, and his Atlanta restaurant, Miller Union, is one of the best in the city. He would be a deserving winner, but this year the Beard should go to Ryan Smith of Staplehouse, the best restaurant in Atlanta and perhaps the entire South. Since opening in September 2015, Staplehouse has been universally acclaimed: Smith takes hyper-local, hyper-seasonal ingredients and uses molecular gastronomy techniques to make stunning plates of food. It could — maybe should — be pretentious, but Smith’s cuisine somehow remains approachable and outrageously delicious. It’s a prime example of the ‘new romanticism’ movement that is sweeping America." — Chris Fuhrmeister, Eater Atlanta editor | All Staplehouse Coverage [EATL]
“Duos are seldom crowned Best Chef, and this tremendously lowers Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman’s odds of winning. Meanwhile, neither Ryan Smith nor John Fleer were nominated last year, which lowers their odds, too. This leaves chefs Edward Lee and Steven Satterfield tied in the lead.” — V.D.
Best Chef: Southwest (AZ, CO, NM, OK, TX, UT)
Bryce Gilmore, Barley Swine, Austin
Steven McHugh, Cured, San Antonio
Hugo Ortega, Hugo’s, Houston
Steve Redzikowski, Acorn, Denver
Martín Rios, Restaurant Martín, Santa Fe
Jianyun Ye, Mala Sichuan Bistro, Houston
Eater endorses: Jianyun Ye
“He’s mostly flown under the radar, but Jianyun Ye of Mala Sichuan Bistro is responsible for making Houston’s best mouth-tingling fare. Ye may not have the name recognition as some of this year’s other finalists in the Southwest, but anyone who’s ever tried the mapo tofu at his restaurant knows that the Beard committee knew exactly what they were doing in choosing this ridiculously talented chef. Ye reportedly didn’t exactly know what the James Beard Awards were, so his win wouldn’t produce yet another obnoxious celebrity chef.” — Amy McCarthy, Eater Houston editor | All Mala Sichuan Bistro Coverage [EHOU]
“Steve McHugh has the best odds in the Southwest category, but Gilmore and Ortega are close behind. What sets McHugh apart is his number of nominations: This is the chef’s second nom, and most Best Chef winners win by their third. Chefs nominated more than that have slimmer odds, and both Gilmore and Ortega have five or more nominations. Martín Rios has the lowest odds, given his restaurant’s hometown, Santa Fe, which hasn’t been nominated before in the Southwest.” — V.D.
Best Chef: West (CA, HI, NV)
Michael Cimarusti, Providence, Los Angeles
Dominique Crenn, Atelier Crenn, San Francisco
Jeremy Fox, Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen, Santa Monica, CA
Corey Lee, Benu, San Francisco
Ludo Lefebvre, Trois Mec, Los Angeles
Travis Lett, Gjelina, Venice, CA
Eater endorses: Corey Lee
“Corey Lee is probably a decade overdue with this award since running the stoves at the French Laundry under Thomas Keller, but his work at Benu, and later at Monsieur Benjamin and In Situ, cement his iconic status in the city of San Francisco. Benu continues to produce world-class cooking that elevates and glorifies Asian cuisine. In fact, I’d argue that Benu is perhaps the pinnacle of Asian fine dining in America, a standard that chefs will pursue for generations to come.” — M.K. | All Benu Coverage [ESF]
“The West category shows the most diverse set of odds. Dominique Crenn would have been the top contender, but the gender gap pushes her odds to fourth place — so Corey Lee is set to take the cake. Like Crenn, his restaurant empire is in San Francisco, and 46 percent of Best Chef: West winners are based there. He and Crenn were also nominated last year, which gives them the best odds, but, alas, men are much more likely to win, the data shows.” — V.D.
Vince Dixon is Eater’s data visualization reporter. Hillary Dixler is Eater’s senior editor.
Editor: Erin DeJesus
Special thanks: Emma Alpern
Note: Eater’s restaurant editor Bill Addison is on the Beard restaurant committee but had nothing to do with the creation of this story.