The awards recognize the achievements of both established chefs and newcomers, as well as bartending, restaurant design and service.

Named for the late chef who helmed the globally acclaimed Le Francais restaurant in Wheeling in the 1970s and 1980s where Banchet transformed French cuisine into an artform, the awards recognize the achievements of both established chefs and newcomers, as well as bartending, restaurant design and service.

This year’s 60 nominees in 15 categories were voted on by the area’s culinary community, “more than 2,500 members of the public, as well as by a carefully selected panel composed of experienced diners, food and beverage journalists, and representatives from the hospitality world,” according to the official announcement. The panel makes the final decisions on nominees and the winners.

In addition, the 2020 Jean Banchet Culinary Achievement Award honoring “a career in excellence” will be presented to legendary Chicago chef/restaurateur Ina Pinkney, whose namesake restaurant graced the West Loop for 33 years before closing in 2013.

The winners will be announced at a gala awards ceremony on Jan. 19, 2020, an annual event benefitting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The evening, hosted by Ever restaurant chief of operations Michael Muser, takes place at Venue Six10 (610 S. Michigan). Tickets, starting at $100, can be purchased at events.cff.org/jeanbanchetawards.

Here’s the list of this year’s nominees:

Best Bartender (honoring the most creative and outstanding talents in preparing and serving beverages):

  • Kevin Beary (The Bamboo Room at Three Dots and a Dash)
  • Roger Landes and Lanie Bayless (Bar Sótano)
  • Juanjo Pulgarin (Vajra)
  • Lee Zaremba (Lazy Bird)

Best Restaurant Service (honoring the establishment providing the highest level of welcoming and helpful service):

  • Gibsons Italia
  • Naoki Sushi
  • S.K.Y.
  • Smyth