By Kevin Pang
12:00 AM CST, February 24, 2014
A couple of news bites, both involving The Publican:
First is the announcement that finalists for the 2014 James Beard Foundation Awards will be named at the Fulton Market restaurant on Tuesday, March 18. (All that Beard Award hubbub last week? Those were the chef and restaurant award semifinalists — the longlist of 20 names per category will be narrowed to five finalists on March 18. Winners will be named in New York City on May 5.)
The event is not open to the public, but if history’s an indication, there’s a good chance the announcement will be live-streamed online. It’s certainly good news for Chicago’s restaurant scene anytime the New York-centric James Beard Foundation comes to town. I don’t know if it’s enough to make a difference in votes, but having the organization brain trust dine here might bode well for possible nominees. Among the semifinalists: Brindille and Nico Osteria for best new restaurant, Sepia for outstanding wine program and Blackbird’s Dana Cree for outstanding pastry chef.
James Beard Foundation president Susan Ungaro told the Tribune Monday: "For six years now, we’ve been taking the JBF Awards Nominations announcement on the road. We began at Fronterra Grill in 2009 ... This year, we are returning to Chicago because the timing was perfect: the Housewares Show is the same week and Chef Paul Kahan was the most recent recipient of our Outstanding Chef Award last year. Clearly, Chicago is one of America’s most dynamic food cities, boasting numerous talented and creative James Beard Award winners."
The other news involving The Publican is a new chef de cuisine has been named to replace Brian Huston, its original head chef who’s leaving to open Boltwood in Evanston. He is 26-year-old Cosmo Goss, who opened Publican Quality Meat two years ago as head butcher. Goss is executive sous chef at both The Publican and PQM until Monday March 3, when he takes over The Publican.
“The Publican was my favorite restaurant in the country even before I worked here,” said the Santa Barbara, Calif. native. “It’s not so much changing what Brian did but maintaining his quality.”
And perhaps one day Goss will too hear his name from the Beard Foundation, like his best friend Erling Wu-Bower, who also helped open the butcher shop and has gone on to national recognition at Nico Osteria. No pressure, kid: His first big assignment is cooking the James Beard Foundation luncheon on March 18, when the finalists for the 2014 Awards will be named, when he’ll have an audience of organization brain trust.
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