California chef Suzanne Goin, known for her use of seasonal local ingredients in European-inspired dishes, was named best U.S. chef by the James Beard Foundation on Monday.
Chicago’s Alinea, which built its reputation on elaborate, avant-garde cuisine, took the prize for top U.S. restaurant.
Goin is only the fifth female to win the top chef honor since the foundation established awards for chefs, restaurants and food writers in 1990.
The California native owns four restaurants in Los Angeles: Lucques, a.o.c. and Tavern as well as The Hungry Cat which she opened with her husband, chef David Lentz.
Goin has received acclaim for her sophisticated comfort food using the best local ingredients since opening her first restaurant, Lucques, in 1998.
In contrast to Lucques’ inviting familiarity, Alinea has challenged diners and critics with its ever-changing tasting menu of up to 22 dishes.
Grant Achatz, who won the best U.S. chef award in 2008, has been the creative force behind the three-star Michelin restaurant in Chicago with its envelope-pushing modernist dishes.
The awards ceremony, the biggest for the U.S. restaurant industry, took place in Chicago. The foundation also named Dahlia Narvaez at Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles as the nation’s top pastry chef and Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery + Café in Boston as top baker.
New Orleans’ Shaya took the prize for best new U.S. restaurant. Daniela Soto-Innes at Cosme in New York City was cited as “rising star chef.”
In other key categories, Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa, Florida, took the prize for outstanding wine program, while Maison Premiere in Brooklyn, New York, was honored for its excellence in cocktail, spirits and/or beer service.
(Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Simon Cameron-Moore)