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

By SAVEUR Editors

Published on May 10, 2018

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.

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

Now on to the JBFA show!

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

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