CHICAGO — Female chefs triumphed in surprising numbers Monday night as this year’s James Beard Awards were handed out at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Suzanne Goin, the chef behind the acclaimed Lucques and a fixture of the restaurant scene in Los Angeles for many years, won top honors as Outstanding Chef. Dahlia Narvaez, also based in Los Angeles, took home the prize for Outstanding Pastry Chef for her creative work at Osteria Mozza. And Daniela Soto-Innes, who oversees the day-to-day cooking at the Mexican chef Enrique Olvera’s New York City restaurant Cosme, was named Rising Star Chef.
Representatives of the James Beard Foundation said 2004 was the last year that all three of those awards had gone to women. But even more women shared in the evening’s bounty, a striking amount of recognition in what is still a male-dominated profession.
Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery & Cafe in Boston was named Outstanding Baker. Renee Erickson of the Seattle restaurants the Whale Wins and the Walrus and the Carpenter was named Best Chef in the Northwest.
Leah Chase, the 93-year-old grande dame of Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in New Orleans, received a standing ovation upon appearing on stage in a wheelchair to accept a Lifetime Achievement award.
“This gives me courage to keep going for about 10 or 12 more years,” she said.
Top prizes also showed a notable degree of geographical diversity. The Best New Restaurant medal went to Shaya, in New Orleans, while Alinea, the trailblazing temple to experimental cuisine in Chicago, captured the prestigious Outstanding Restaurant award.