Every profession likes to honor its best, and foodies are no exception. The James Beard Foundation Awards celebrate excellence in the culinary world, and the 2012 winners were announced last night. The best part for the man who loves to eat? JBF gives out regional awards, helping you find some of the greatest grub across the country. Here are 15 freshly minted honorees and why you should check them out. (Wondering where to get the mouth-watering center cut pork chop above? See the very end of this roundup.)
Best Chef: Great Lakes
Bruce Sherman of North Pond in Chicago
Best Reason to Visit: Check out the Chicago skyline while you nosh on local, seasonal food, remembering a time before December strawberries.
Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic
Maricel Presilla of Cucharamama in Hoboken, New Jersey
Best Chef: Midwest
Tory Miller of L’Etoile in Madison, Wisconsin
Best Reason to Visit:: Another seasonal and local joint, L’Etoile could conceivably be a different restaurant every time you pop in.
Best Reason to Visit: If you’re looking to feel posh, hit up Gramercy Tavern, which offers high-end contemporary cuisine and is among New York magazine’s favorite restaurants.