People/Events/Accounts: News About the James Beard Foundation, Harry Morton, the Empire State Building, and More

ATLANTA: Hilton Atlanta has announced a new culinary leadership team. The 1,249-room property has named Christian Quiñones Vargas as executive chef and Alexander Busch as director of food and beverage.

CHICAGO: The James Beard Foundation and American Airlines have announced a partnership to offer meals from award-winning chefs on several flights. Top Chef finalist and Beard-award winner Sarah Grueneberg of Chicago restaurant Monteverde is the first contributing chef. The new menu items debut December 3 for first- or business-class passengers flying from the U.S. to Europe and South America, and between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Los Angeles or San Francisco.

LAS VEGAS: The first Simon Cup, a national esports competition, yielded a $50,000 shopping spree for the winner, Brooklyn native Daryl John. The 20-year-old competitor bested a field of 64 amateur Fortnite players from around the country at HyperX Esports Arena Las Vegas.

LOS ANGELES: Harry Morton, the founder of the Pink Taco restaurant chain and former owner of the Viper Room nightclub, passed away on Saturday at the age of 38. Morton's grandfather, Arnie, co-founded Morton’s the Steakhouse restaurant in 1978, while his father, Peter, co-founded the Hard Rock Cafe franchise in 1971. 

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NEW YORK: On Wednesday, the Empire State Building will open the Observatory Experience on the 80th floor, the culmination of a four-year, $165 million renovation. The 13,000-square-foot observatory has six multimedia exhibits that include virtual-reality powered viewfinders that show off points of interest such as Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Times Square; a commissioned piece by the architectural artist Stephen Wiltshire; a video feature on the building's light shows by lighting designer Marc Brickman; and touch-screen kiosks programmed by NYC & Co. to suggest tourist attractions and restaurants.

The Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation’s 22nd Collaborating for a Cure Gala raised a record-setting sum of nearly $6 million. It drew nearly 1,000 guests who celebrated the SWCRF’s research achievements and honorees Kobi Halperin, Valery Joseph, and Marc Taub, who received the SWCRF Collaborating for Cure awards. Guests at this year’s gala were treated to a performance by Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real,

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With contributions from Claire Hoffman in Los Angeles and Rayna Katz, Beth Kormanik, and Michele Laufik in New York.

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