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He’s cookin’! Rich Melman wins James Beard award

Rich Melman wJames Beard award for Outstanding Restaurateur. | Sun-Times file

Rich Melman won the James Beard award for Outstanding Restaurateur. | Sun-Times file

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Updated: May 9, 2012 9:44AM

It was Rich Melman’s night.

The Lettuce Entertain You honcho, a finalist for a prestigious James Beard Foundation award since at least 2005, finally shrugged off the Susan Lucci title and snagged the honor of Outstanding Restaurateur. The awards, the culinary world’s Oscars, were presented at a ceremony in New York.

Alas, none of the other Chicago nominees came home a winner, not even in the category of best chef of the Great Lakes region, in which four of the five finalists were from Chicago. Instead, that honor went to Alex Young of Zingerman’s Roadhouse in Ann Arbor, Mich. Chicago nominees included Blackbird’s Paul Kahan in the outstanding chef category; Blackbird’s pastry chef Patrick Fahy and Mindy Segal of Hot Chocolate, both nominated for outstanding pastry chef, and Stephanie Izard, whose popular West Loop restaurant Girl & the Goat was up for the title of the nation’s best new restaurant. Janet Rausa Fuller

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