Behind the Beards: A Look Behind the Scenes at the 2018 Beard Awards

There was caviar, a beard trimming station, and a flask for everyone

On Monday night, the Chicago Lyric Opera House was flooded with chefs, bartenders, restaurateurs, and lots of tuxedos for the James Beard Awards, that annual mashup of The Oscars and prom night that honors restaurants, bars, and the people who make them happen. This year, the theme was Rise, to "celebrate the collective spirit of our community and the power of food." SAVEUR and the Park Hyatt Chicago hosted the second annual JBF Pregame Lounge in the hotel's Water Tower Suite, where nominees were able to relax and get ready for the awards with hair styling by Mario Tricoci Salon and beard trims and express manicures by Merchant & Rhoades. We then headed to the Opera House for the James Beard Foundation awards, where photographer Matt Taylor-Gross shot a behind-the-scenes portrait session with the winners and some of SAVEUR's good friends, including chefs Amanda Frietag and Hugh Acheson.

spritzes made with Mionetto and Aperol
Guests were served delicious spritzes made with Mionetto and Aperol.Matt Taylor-Gross
caviar
You can't pregame without a caviar bar.Matt Taylor-Gross
potoato chip
Park Hyatt Chicago makes what was easily everyone's favorite potato chip. Pro tip: This chip is best when topped with a pile of caviar.Matt Taylor-Gross
caviar
Regalis provided caviar for the party-goers.Matt Taylor-Gross
Park Hyatt Chicago Spread
The Park Hyatt Chicago provided a beautiful spread of all things charcuterie and created an unforgettable party!Matt Taylor-Gross
Chicago's Merchant & Rhoades
Guests were provided with beard trims and shaves from Chicago's Merchant & Rhoades.Matt Taylor-Gross
Stacy Adimando and her husband Steve Graf
SAVEUR's editorial director Stacy Adimando and her husband Steve Graf of Valkyrie Selections smile for the camera before the party starts.Matt Taylor-Gross
bubbly
You can't have a party without bubbly.Matt Taylor-Gross
Chicago brewery Goose Island
Chicago brewery Goose Island pours some of their finest.Matt Taylor-Gross
Julie Marshall
Julie Marshall of the James Beard Foundation gets a hair touch-up by Mario Tricoci Salon at SAVEUR's JBF Pregame Lounge.Matt Taylor-Gross
Katie Button and her husband Felix Meana
James Beard-nominated chef Katie Button and her husband Felix Meana stop by the SAVEUR Pregame Lounge before heading to the awards.Matt Taylor-Gross
Jesse Valenciana
Jesse Valenciana, Goose Island, receives a beard trim from Merchant & Rhoades.Matt Taylor-Gross
Karrie Kimble and Betsy Fox
Karrie Kimble from Philosophy Foods and Betsy Fox of Fork Lift Foods smile for the camera.Matt Taylor-Gross
Juanita Dickson
Juanita Dickson, President of Gusto54, enjoys an Aperol spritz at the JBF Pregame Lounge.Matt Taylor-Gross
Zachary Golper
Beard Nominee Zachary Golper of Bien Cuit gets a nail buff at the JBF Pregame Lounge.Matt Taylor-Gross
Juanita Dickson, Matt Rogel with Stacy Adimando
Juanita Dickson, Matt Rogel, beverage director of Felix Restaurant, and Stacy Adimando smile for the camera.Matt Taylor-Gross
hef Levi Raines, Bywater American Bistro, and James Beard winner chef Nina Compton
Chef Levi Raines, Bywater American Bistro, and James Beard award-winning chef Nina Compton stay hydrated at the SAVEUR party.Matt Taylor-Gross
Writer Stacey Ballis and Extra Crispy editor Kat Kinsman
Writer Stacey Ballis and Extra Crispy editor Kat Kinsman enjoy some Aperol spritzes at the JBF Pregame Lounge.Matt Taylor-Gross
David Greene and his wife, chef Rose Previte
NPR Morning Edition host David Greene and his wife, chef Rose Previte of James Beard-nominated Maydān restaurant, stopped by SAVEUR's Pregame Lounge.Matt Taylor-Gross

Now on to the JBFA show!

Dolester Miles
Dolester Miles of Highlands Bar & Grill in Birmingham, Alabama enjoys a SAVEUR flask of Woodford Reserve after winning best pastry chef.Matt Taylor-Gross
Belinda Leong and Michel Suas: B. Patisserie
Belinda Leong and Michel Suas, B. Patisserie, San Francisco, win for Outstanding Baker.Matt Taylor-Gross
SAVEUR passed out flasks
SAVEUR passed out flasks filled with Woodford Reserve to the lucky James Beard Foundation Award winners.Matt Taylor-Gross
Paula Wolfert
Paula Wolfert is the 2018 awards’ Lifetime Achievement Honoree.Matt Taylor-Gross
Clare Reichenbach
James Beard CEO Clare Reichenbach toasts with some Woodford Reserve.Matt Taylor-Gross
Charleston’s FIG restaurant group
Charleston’s FIG restaurant group is honored for its Outstanding Wine Program.Matt Taylor-Gross
Neil Bodenheimer and Kirk Estopinal
The team at cocktail bar Cure in New Orleans, owned by Neil Bodenheimer and Kirk Estopinal, celebrates their win for Outstanding Bar Program.Matt Taylor-Gross
Helen Rosner and Kat Kinsman
Writer Helen Rosner, The New Yorker, and Extra Crispy editor Kat Kinsman take in the architecture of Chicago's Lyric Opera House.Matt Taylor-Gross
chef Vivian Howard and Ben Knight
Chef Vivian Howard and Ben Knight of Chef and the Farmer presented at the awards, but they take a moment to smile for the camera.Matt Taylor-Gross
Jeremiah Langhorne and Melany Robinson
Best Chef Mid Atlantic winner Jeremiah Langhorne and Melany Robinson, Polished Pig.Matt Taylor-Gross
Nina Compton
Best Chef South Nina Compton.Matt Taylor-Gross
Chef Hugh Acheson
Chef Hugh Acheson looks suave backstage at the awards.Matt Taylor-Gross
Rodney Scott
Barbecue legend and Best Chef Southeast winner Rodney Scott.Matt Taylor-Gross
Best Chef Great Lakes winner Abraham Conlon
Best Chef Great Lakes winner Abraham Conlon had the best socks of the evening.Matt Taylor-Gross
Marcela Valladolid
Food Network star Marcela Valladolid looked radiant at the James Beard Awards.Matt Taylor-Gross
Presenter Zooey Deschanel and husband Jacob Pechenik
Presenter Zooey Deschanel and with her husband, Jacob Pechenik.Matt Taylor-Gross
Chefs Amanda Freitag, and Alex Guarnaschelli with Colby Lewis
Chefs Amanda Freitag and Alex Guarnaschelli pose with Hamilton cast member Colby Lewis.Matt Taylor-Gross
Missy Robbins
Best Chef New York Missy Robbins.Matt Taylor-Gross