And the best restaurants in America are…

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(May 5, 2015) – What makes a restaurant the hottest destination in town?

Glowing Yelp reviews, Instagram-worthy presentation and high praise from critics and food bloggers go a long way. But among chefs and restaurateurs, nothing says you’ve made it like a James Beard Award. Since 1990, the not-for-profit James Beard Foundation, named after “the father of American cuisine,” has been honoring outstanding names in the food and beverage industry.

There is no cash reward, but a win — or even a nomination — can substantially increase the buzz for business. Chef and restaurant winners were announced Monday night at Lyric Opera in Chicago. Here are some of the winners and honorees:

Best New Restaurant

Outstanding Bar Program

Outstanding Chef

Outstanding Pastry Chef

Outstanding Baker

Outstanding Restaurant

Outstanding Service

Outstanding Wine Program

Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional

  • Winner: Rajat Parr, Mina Group (San Francisco)
  • Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Milton, Delaware)
  • Ron Cooper, Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal (Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico)
  • Ted Lemon, Littorai Wines (Sebastopol, California)
  • Harlen Wheatley, Buffalo Trace Distillery (Frankfort, Kentucky)

Rising Star Chef of the Year

Best Chef: Great Lakes

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic

Best Chef: Midwest

Best Chef: Northeast

Best Chef: Northwest

  • Winner: Blaine Wetzel, The Willows Inn on Lummi Island (Lummi Island, Washington)
  • Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton, Ox (Portland, Oregon)
  • Renee Erickson, The Whale Wins (Seattle)
  • Justin Woodward, Castagna (Portland, Oregon)
  • Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi, Joule (Seattle)

Best Chef: New York City 

Best Chef: South 

Best Chef: Southeast

Best Chef: Southwest

Best Chef: West