The “Oscars of the food business” were announced on Monday in New York City and a Greek American chef from Chicago was among the winners. Jimmy Bannos Jr. of the Purple Pig, on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, was named Rising Star Chef at the 2014 James Beard Awards.
The Beard Awards are considered the top honors in the culinary world.
Chef Jimmy Bannos Jr., a fourth-generation restaurateur. Both sets of grandparents owned restaurants. He was ‘born and raised’ in Chicago’s Heaven on Seven restaurant. Put to work bussing tables for his father at age five, Jimmy learned the trade first hand while spending days at the family-owned Louisiana-style restaurant.
Once realizing he shared his father’s passion for food and the restaurant industry, he decided to attend the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. While there, he worked at the critically acclaimed Al Forno restaurant, located near the university, as well as completed an internship at Emeril’s in New Orleans.
Bringing his Mediterranean connection home, Jimmy returned to Chicago in 2009 to open The Purple Pig in December of that year. Located at 500 North Michigan Avenue, the restaurant offers cheese, swine and wine, among other standout dishes, showcasing the flavors of Italy, Greece and Spain.