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CHICAGO In what was considered a giant coup for the city of Chicago, the James Beard Foundation decided to uproot its award gala from New York City for the first time and held the prestigious event at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on May 4. “The James Beard Foundation has enjoyed a special friendship with the city of Chicago for decades. It’s a city that boasts over 40 James Beard Award winners, as well as a special community of chefs and restaurateurs who have always supported the work of our foundation,” said Susan Ungaro, the foundation's president. “We believe celebrating our 2015 awards in Chicago is consistent with our mission to honor excellence all across America.” Last month, it was announced that the awards will return to Chicago in 2016 and 2017, as well.
Some 2,000 guests attended this year's springtime event, which began with an award ceremony onstage and was followed by a gala reception with hosted bars from liquor brands and tasting stations presided over by James Beard Award-winning chefs. Here's a look inside the food-driven celebration.