When the co-owner of Calumet Fisheries, Mark Kotlick, found out his establishment won a prestigious James Beard Foundation Award, he was flabbergasted.
He was confounded mainly because he’d never heard of the award and had to use Google to find out it was akin to winning an Oscar.
"We're pretty amazed and honored," said Kotlick told the Sun-Times after learning its significance.
Calument Fisheries is a no-nonsense joint located at 3259 E. 95th on the west bank of the Calumet River. It’s famous for its smoked fish, which can be seen hanging on racks behind the restaurant. .
It’s gained national attention before when traveling chef Anthony Bourdain went there in 2008 for his show "No Reservations."
But the Beard “American Classic” Award, which honors five regional restaurants a year, puts it in a different class altogether.
"The American Classics restaurants are central to the community whether in a small town or big city," JBF President Susan Ungaro told the paper "They represent a very special segment of American cuisine."
The presentation ceremony takes place on May 2, and Kotlick, who hopes the notoriety will increase business traffic, can’t wait to attend.
"We'll be playing with the big boys that night," Kotlick told the paper. "If I could sit with a Rick Bayless or a Rachael Ray, well that would be a fun, interesting evening."