Gotta hand it to the James Beard Awards. What started out two decades ago as a way to recognize the best restaurants, chefs and cookbooks, has turned into an all-glamour, star-studded (if you think Wolfgang Puck is a star) event. Moved from the dowdy Marriot Marquis in Times Square a few years ago, the event is now held at Lincoln Center, complete with the phalanx of cameras and reporters camped out front, hoping to have a few words with "Iron Chef" Michael Symon or Andrew Zimmern.
Last night, as I reported, only two Chicago winners brought home the Beard: Cliff Doerksen from The Chicago Reader and Kevin Pang from chicagotribune.com. Tonight, a handful of locals are poised (fingers crossed) to take home their own Beards: HotChocolate's Mindy Segal is up for Best Pastry Chef in the country, and Spiaggia is back again to attempt to claim the most coveted prize of the night - Best Restaurant in the Country.
I'll be blogging live from the event tonight, grabbing interviews with any and all Chicago-area winners.