Chicago journalist Steve Dolinsky breaks some shocking news this morning, suggesting that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's press conference today will announce that the James Beard Awards are moving to Chicago in 2015.
On his blog, Always Hungry, Seldom Speechless, the well-connected Dolinsky cites unnamed sources, but notes that Emanuel will be joined by past Chicago Beard winners in Millennium Park when he speaks later this morning. Dolinsky writes:
"According to several sources, all of whom requested anonymity due to the highly secretive nature of the negotiations, The New York City-based James Beard Foundation will fête the U.S. culinary world’s elite not at Lincoln Center – where it has done so for the past several years – but rather, at Chicago’s Civic Opera House."
Dolinsky backs up his claim, noting that local chefs were invited to attend the ceremony this morning, but weren't told why or what it's about. Still, he makes a convincing argument, noting that Emanuel has suggested that the Beards belong in Chicago because so many Windy City chefs have taken home the award.
It also makes sense from a financial perspective, since so many New Yorkers would need to travel to Chicago for the festivities, pumping dollars into the local economy. Stay tuned, and we'll update as we hear more out of Chicago.
Update 1: The Chicago Tribune reports that the announcement will take place today, with the Beards moving to the Chicago Opera House in May, marking the first time since 1990 that the awards will not be given out in New York City.
Update 2: The New York Times now confirms the story, quoting James Beard president Susan Ungaro: “Chicago made us a very appealing offer to host the show. We had the passionate support of the mayor.”