James Beard Awards

Erick Williams, Chef of Hyde Park's ‘Virtue' Wins Chicago's Only 2022 James Beard Award

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Chicago's food scene officially has a new James Beard Winner.

The annual James Beard Awards, considered to be among the nation’s most prestigious awards that honors exceptional talent in the culinary and food industries, were held in Chicago this week and awarded chefs and restaurants from across the nation in categories ranging from Best New Restaurant, to Outstanding Pastry Chef to Outstanding Hospitality.

Several Chicago chefs and restaurants were nominated across a handful of categories this year, including Outstanding Bar Program, Outstanding Baker and Outstanding Restaurant.

But only one nominee took home an award.

Erick Williams, of Virtue Restaurant & Bar on Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, took home the Best Chef Award in the regional Great Lakes category, which included nominees from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.

Three other Chicago chefs were nominated for that award, along with a chef from Detroit.

"I'm humbled," Williams said of his win. "I'm very honored to represent what we do at Virtue on the South side, and I think its a huge win for the South Side."

"I'm an inner city kid at heart," the Chicago native said. "I grew up in Lawndale and Austin, two of Chicago's toughest neighborhoods. And now I have a restaurant on Chicago's south side. It's important to me to not only be of the community, but part of the community."

Virtue, at 1462 E. 53rd St., describes itself as a "Southern American restaurant that leads with a culture of hospitality and kindness. We pride ourselves on unpretentious service, timing and most importantly providing great value."

A letter of gratitude on the restaurant's website signed by Williams reads, "We didn’t get here of ourselves or by ourselves. We stand on the shoulders of our ancestry both distant and near. Without their struggles, their commitment to freedom, and their spirit of hope, we would have no place to dream, no place to explore, and no ambitions to follow. We are humbled and forever grateful for their tireless fight for equality. Thank you to all of our loving and passionate family, co-heirs of faith, extended family, friends, mentors, investors, creatives, contractors, vendors, counselors, and teammates both past and present."

On the menu, diners will find biscuits, gizzards, shrimp and crawfish, collards and smoked turkey and more. Reservations are available here.

Here's the full list of 2022 James Beard Award categories with nominees from Chicago:

Outstanding Chef  

  • Reem Assil, Reem's, Oakland and San Francisco, CA
  • Mashama Bailey, The Grey, Savannah, GA (Winner)
  • Peter Chang, Peter Chang, VA and MD
  • Jason Vincent, Giant, Chicago
  • Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi, Joule, Seattle

Outstanding Restaurant  

  • Brennan's, New Orleans
  • Butcher & Bee, Charleston, SC
  • Chai Pani, Asheville, NC (Winner)
  • Parachute, Chicago
  • The Walrus and the Carpenter, Seattle

Best New Restaurant (Presented by BentoBox)

  • Angry Egret Dinette, Los Angeles
  • Bacanora, Phoenix
  • BARDA, Detroit
  • Dhamaka, NYC
  • Horn BBQ, Oakland, CA
  • Kasama, Chicago
  • Leeward, Portland, ME
  • Owamni, Minneapolis (Winner)
  • Oyster Oyster, Washington, D.C.
  • Roots Southern Table, Farmers Branch, TX
  • Ursula, NYC

Outstanding Bar Program

  • Alley Twenty Six, Durham, NC
  • Attaboy, Nashville
  • barmini by José Andrés, Washington, D.C.
  • Julep, Houston (Winner)
  • Nobody's Darling, Chicago

Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH) 

  • Omar Anani, Saffron De Twah, Detroit
  • Jason Hammel, Lula Cafe, Chicago
  • Noah Sandoval, Oriole, Chicago
  • John Shields and Karen Urie Shields, Smyth, Chicago
  • Erick Williams, Virtue Restaurant & Bar, Chicago (Winner)
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