Rich Melman Wins James Beard Award

Lettuce Entertain You founder named Restaurateur of the Year

By Marcus Riley
|  Monday, May 9, 2011  |  Updated 9:08 PM CDT
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PHOTOS: Grand Chefs Gala

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Rich Melman (right) has been in the restaurant business since 1971.

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Rich Melman took home one of the biggest honors in the culinary world Monday, winning a James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Restaurateur.

The Lettuce Entertain You founder is also chairman of the Chicago company that owns more than 80 restaurants nationwide, including Lincoln Park's R.J. Grunts, which he started in 1971, and mix of high-end and accessible restaurants including Tru, Wildfire steakhouses, Café Ba-Ba-Reeba! and Big Bowl.

The award ceremony was held in New York's Lincoln Center.

The news wasn't as good for the rest of Chicago's nominees who failed to bring home any hardware. Chicago nominees:

Best New Restaurant
Girl & The Goat
Outstanding Chef
Paul Kahan, Blackbird
Outstanding Pastry Chef
Patrick Fahy, Blackbird
Mindy Segal, Hot Chocolate
Outstanding Restaurateur
Richard Melman, Everest, L2O, Shaw’s Crab House, Tru
Outstanding Service
Topolobampo
Outstanding Restaurant Graphics
The Publican
Best Chef: Great Lakes
Michael Carlson, Schwa
Curtis Duffy, Avenues
Bruce Sherman, North Pond
Paul Virant, Vie

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