A Chicago-area chef Monday night won the award for “Best Chef in the Great Lakes Region” presented by the James Beard Foundation, in a category in which Anne Kearney, executive chef and co-owner of Rue Dumaine restaurant in Washington Twp., was one of the five finalists.
The James Beard Foundation Awards are widely regarded as the nation’s most prestigious recognition honoring those in the food and beverage industries — a sort of Academy Awards for restaurants and chefs. No Dayton-area chef or restaurant owner has won a Beard Foundation award for their work at a local restaurant.
The Beard Foundation’s Great Lakes Region that includes Ohio also includes Chicago, which through the years has dominated the nominations in the regional “best chef” category. This year, all four of the other finalists work in Chicago-area restaurants.
Bruce Sherman of North Pond restaurant in Chicago was named regional winner.
Last year, Kearney was named one of 20 semifinalists in the same category, but didn’t advance beyond the semifinalist stage.
Kearney could not be reached for comment at the awards ceremony. Prior to traveling to the awards banquet, held at Lincoln Center in New York City, Kearney said, “All things considered, it is an honor to be nominated simply for the opportunity to be in the same room with the culinary legends from the past 25 years as well as the new breed.”
The James Beard Foundation recognized Rue Dumaine in 2008, naming it a semifinalist for the foundation’s “Best New Restaurant” in the country. Kearney herself was named a James Beard Foundation best-chef award winner in the southeastern U.S. in 2002 when she and her husband, Tom Sand, owned and operated Peristyle restaurant in New Orleans. She had been named a semifinalist each of the three preceding years.
When the finalists for the 2012 awards were named earlier this year and Kearney had made the top five, Amy Zahora, executive director of the Miami Valley Restaurant Association, and Shanon Morgan, president of the MVRA, both said the selection reflects well on the overall quality of dining in the Miami Valley.
Zahora said, Dayton “is a small city that doesn’t get a lot of credit, but there’s a lot of great talent here, and great chefs, too.”
Morgan said, “It’s a privilege to have Anne Kearney here, not only because she’s a great chef, but because she’s a wonderful person, too.”
Kearney and Sand opened Rue Dumaine in 2007 at 1061 Miamisburg-Centerville Road (Ohio 725). The restaurant wull be moving to the Austin Landing center, in 2013.