It was Rich Melman's night.
The Lettuce Entertain You honcho, a finalist for a prestigious James Beard Foundation award since at least 2005, finally shrugged off Susan Lucci Syndrome and snagged the honor of Outstanding Restaurateur. The awards, the culinary world's Oscars, were presented at an awards ceremony in New York.
Alas, none of the other Chicago nominees came home a winner, not even in the category of best chef of the Great Lakes region, in which four of the five finalists were from Chicago. Instead, that honor went to Alex Young of Zingerman's Roadhouse in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Chicago nominees included Blackbird's Paul Kahan in the outstanding chef category; Blackbird's pastry chef Patrick Fahy and Mindy Segal of Hot Chocolate, both nominated for outstanding pastry chef, and Stephanie Izard, whose popular West Loop restaurant Girl & the Goat was up for the title of the nation's best new restaurant.