Every year in May since 1990, the James Beard Foundation has honored extraordinary men, women, and organizations in the food and beverage world. It's an amazing honor for those nominated, and gives recognition to establishments across the United States. I'll be presenting an award this year, and I'm very honored at the opportunity to participate in the ceremony. Like the Oscars of the food world, the James Beard Awards generate media hype and provoke intense speculation. On May 6th and 9th, food-lovers, journalists, and chefs will watch as the winners are announced. Listed in no particular order, here are the five restaurants that opened in 2010 vying for the prize in the Best New Restaurant category.
1. ABC Kitchen: Jean-Georges Vongerichten is a restaurant industry veteran. His latest creation, ABC Kitchen, serves local and organic food inside a trendy home furnishings store. Serving dishes like pretzel dusted calamari and cavatelli with ramps, ABC Kitchen has been one of the year's most exciting New York restaurants.
2. Benu: French Laundry alum Corey Lee heads the kitchen at Benu, a new San Francisco hotspot. Benu's inventive, Asian-inflected food reflects on his personal history-monkfish liver torchon nods at Thomas Keller's foie gras dishes, while thousand-year-old quail egg riffs on classic Chinese cookery.
3. Girl & the Goat: Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard's restaurant Girl & The Goat has rapidly become a Chicago dining standard. The menu ranges from chickpea fritters to roasted pork shank with truffled apples. Izard aims to please all palates, both meat-obsessed and vegetarian.
4. Menton: Menton is a French town on the Italian border, and Barbara Lynch's newest restaurant straddles those two culinary worlds. Seasonal produce drives the menu, which might begin with asparagus gelee and end with a spiced chocolate cake.
5. Torrisi Italian Specialties: At Torrisi Italian Specialties, no reservations are accepted and only one menu is served. Typically, the set menu includes a cluster of antipasti, pasta, a main, and dessert. This New York phenomenon is incredibly popular, packed with diners every night before the sun even sets.
What restaurant do you think should win Best New Restaurant this year? For more on the James Beard Awards click here.