JBF Award Winners: Great Lakes/Midwest

James Beard Foundation · Cleveland Top 10 Guide · created about 7 years ago

Since 1991 the James Beard Foundation has been honoring the best chefs and restaurants in the country with the prestigious James Beard Foundation Awards. For this guide we asked past JBF Award winners from our regional Best Chef in America categories about the food at their own restaurants. They told us, in their own words, what their favorites dishes are and which foods best represent their culinary style.

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    Beef Cheek Pierogie at Lola Bistro in Cleveland, OH

    Cleveland may not come immediately to mind when thinking of culinary meccas but there’s great food coming out of the city—and Iron Chef Michael Symon’s Lola Bistro is at the top of the list of must-visit restaurants. The beef cheek pierogie topped with wild mushrooms, horseradish, and crème fraîche are “the dish that Lola was built on,” according to the 2009 Best Chef: Great Lakes. “We have been doing them for 15 years and they are the perfect mix of old and new Cleveland.”

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    Smoked Berkshire Pork Chop with Chilies, Cheese Polenta, and BBQ Onions at Lola Bistro in Cleveland, OH

    It’s no secret that chef Symon loves pork and his smoked Berkshire pork chop at Lola Bistro is a great way to eat pork. “This dish is a perfect example of the style of food I love to cook,” Symon explains. “It’s smoky, salty, and rich and then the pickled chile salad give you a burst of acidity and freshness that cuts through the fat.”

  • Hand-Harvested Scallops from Barnegat Light at Restaurant Naha in Chicago, IL

    Although Carrie Nahabedian makes her home in Chicago, her cooking style celebrates her Armenian roots and a California attitude towards ingredients. Be sure to order the scallops at this 2008 Best Chef: Great Lakes winner’s restaurant. They are roasted with vanilla bean, citrus, and spices and served with a symphony of flavors including caramelized Belgian endive and forelle pears, locally crafted coppa ham, and candied honeybell tangelo and mint.

  • Sole Meuniere at Bartolotta's Lake Park Bistro in Milwaukee, WI

    Adam Siegel serves delicious French bistro fare in Milwaukee. The 2008 Best Chef: Midwest winner is quick to highlight the most classic preparations as his favorites. Topping the list? The Dover sole. It’s flown in several times a week, filleted tableside, and served with an unctuous brown butter and lemon sauce.

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    Crispy Pork Shoulder at JULIAN in Kansas City, MO

    Celina Tio serves feel good food with a twist. This 2007 Best Chef: Midwest winner took home the medallion for her tenure at the iconic American Restaurant, but now she’s got her own place—JULIAN. Her pork shoulder is braised, pulled from the bone, packed into a pan to cool and then cut into cubes, after which it’s seared to make it crispy on the outside while still moist on the inside. You might find it paired with celeriac and potato mash or sweet potato purée and housemade toasted marshmallow.

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    House-Smoked Salmon at JULIAN in Kansas City, MO

    “One of my primary goals for JULIAN is to deliver chef-driven food without the pretense,” Tio says. “Our house-smoked salmon represents that philosophy.” The salmon is hot-smoked and then served cold with caraway pain perdue, créme fraîche, and pickled onion. “It's familiar but intriguing and perfectly balanced. And of course, yummy. It just makes you feel good.'