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Hungry Magazine - All Things Tasty
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02.05.07

Banchet Awards Results

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Celebrity Chef of the Year, Grant Achatz of Alinea

Chicago’s local version of the culinary Oscars, the Banchet Awards for Culinary Excellence were held Friday night. The awards are named after the legendary chef Jean Banchet, formerly of Le Francais, a restaurant that was once the Charlie Trotters and Alinea of its day. Here are the results:

Celebrity Chef of the Year - Grant Achatz of Alinea
Best Fine Dining - Alinea
Celebrity Pastry Chef - Elissa Narow of Custom House
Rising Chef - Michael Carlson of Schwa
Rising Pastry Chef - Suzanne Imaz of Nomi
Best Sommelier - Craig Sindelair of Alinea
Best Neighborhood Restaurant - Le Bouchon
Best Catering Company - Designed Cuisine

One Comment on "Banchet Awards Results"

Barry Strum

I must lodge a protest regarding Le Bouchon as “favorite neighborhood restaurant”

Yes…….it’s chic.
Yes……..it’s got a great setting.
Yes……..it’s reputed to have great food at reasonable prices, and…..
Yes..it’s highly regarded among the Chicago cognoscenti……..

BUT………..they fail miserably with their front of the house skills………..surly, snooty, snotty, indifferent, rude, indifferent (yes, I know I repeated my self…for emphasis).

Permit me to elaborate………we were going to be in Chicago to visit my daughter & son-in-law. Having read much about Le Bouchon, we were anxious to dine there….so, we made reservations…well in advance (about 2 weeks if I recall).

We arrived that Saturday evening about 15 minutes early, figuring we’d slip over to the bar and wait for the table. Fifteen quickly turned into thirty. I inquired at first, implored second, mild pleading followed, then contained rage as we were dismissively told by the reigning Queen of Anorexia (who apparently has taken to waiting tables in her elegant new casual French peasant wardrobe, as lawyers seek to unravel the royal family’s trust) that the reservation system was pretty much intuitive. Her manager, a slightly bit snottier, befitting one in her management position, gave us a line that boiled down to something like “Inspiration abounds at Le Bouchon. Naturally, it begins in the kitchen in a delicate balance of sheer artistry and mysterious alchemy, then it wafts across the entire establishment as the waitstaff runs food to the grateful diners. Inspiration takes many forms. Ours in the front of the house staff is what we like to call ” Casual haughtiness”. We cannot take time to get concerned with the specifics of your or anyone else’s situation, as that would seriously detract from the haughtiness….and we can’t have that….especially at these reasonably, fair prices.”

We left in a huff and ate at another place in Wicker Park………..though for apppropriate relief from the hip atmosphere, we should have shot straight to Skokie for a post Shabbos, Hasidic nosh at Chabad Cafe.

Once back in Cincinnati, we sent a lengthy note to the restaurant’s website which we found with the link at the homepage’s bottom line……”contact us if…. you must” No reply.

Final note: tell the sophisiticates at the bar that (1) Bombay makes two gins….Sapphire is for Yuppies, whereas the red label featuring Queen Victoria releases its botanicals beautifully when splashed with the proper amount of vermouth. “Dry” does not mean “no vermouth”. That stuff attributed to Churchill et al is the stuff of legend. No vermouth isn’t a dry Martini. It’s merely gin.



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