New York took home a few medals last night in Chicago at the James Beard Awards honoring restaurants and chefs — widely considered among the highest restaurant honors in North America.
Outstanding Restaurateur: Stephen Starr
Perhaps no New York industry pro won as big as Stephen Starr, a Philly and New York restaurateur who has been nominated as a finalist or semi-finalist for an award every year since 2008, but had yet to win. Last night, Starr finally nabbed the Outstanding Restaurateur award. Over the years, he’s opened both food world darlings like Upland and Serpico in Philly, as well as clubbier spots such as Buddakan.
In his acceptance speech, Starr thanked all the immigrants who keep restaurants running, a tribute that received a line of applause.
Best New Restaurant: Le Coucou
His downtown French hit Le Coucou, run by chef Daniel Rose, also took home the award for Best New Restaurant in the country, beating out Olmsted in Brooklyn, Pineapple and Pearls in D.C., Tartine Manufactory in SF, and In Situ in SF.
The restaurant opened last year, and its success revealed that the city apparently had an untapped desire for romantic French dining. Eater critic Ryan Sutton awarded it three stars, calling it an “instant French classic.” The Times’ Pete Wells also gave it three stars.
This year, Eater’s Hillary Dixler endorsed Starr for the outstanding restaurateur award, saying “it’s unbelievable” he has yet to win. Even if some of his restaurants “might rub Beard voters the wrong way,” the businesses continue to succeed, she said. He has also developed a winning formula of partnering with some of the best culinary talent in the world for interesting restaurants in the Northeast, Dixler added.
Outstanding Pastry Chef: Ghaya Oliveria
Longtime Daniel Boulud empire pastry chef Ghaya Oliveira took home the award for Outstanding Pastry Chef for her work at Daniel after several nominations. The former stock trader from Tunisia got into the pastry business in 1998 and joined Cafe Boulud in 2001. She started at Boulud’s flagship fine-dining restaurant as executive pastry chef in 2013 and has been nominated for this national James Beard award three times before.
Outstanding Service: Blue Hill at Stone Barns
Blue Hill at Stone Barns won the award for Outstanding Service, which it has been nominated for one time previously. Eater’s Helen Rosner endorsed the restaurant for the award this year, writing that servers there act “as your spirit guide, therapist, and cheerleader.”
Best Chef, New York City: Marco Canora
Finally, for the James Beard Award for the Best Chef: New York City, Marco Canora brought it home for his East Village restaurant Hearth. The chef has run the restaurant for some time but revamped it last January to give it a more health-conscious menu after a personal health crisis. The changes paid off, and critics found Hearth to be just as relevant as ever — Eater critic Ryan Sutton awarded it three stars, and Pete Wells at the Times awarded it two. This was the chef’s third time being nominated in the category.