It's gotten very little attention from local food media (that was sarcasm) but the James Beard Foundation Awards for chefs and restaurants are being held on Monday night, and there are approximately 14,000,000 events related to them this weekend. Most are for industry people, but some are open to regular folks who want to mingle with chefs and such. For instance, tonight Acadia is hosting a bourbon and bluegrass party from 6 to 10 PM. Chef Ryan McCaskey will whip up a raw oyster bar, a suckling pig, and other things, while Greg Buttera (Dusek's, Thalia Hall) and Stephen Cole (Lone Wolf) will mix bourbon cocktails. It's $75, part of which will go the Chicago Zoological Society and the Brookfield Zoo.
• Want to blow big bucks on big meat? RPM Steak has a special dinner on Saturday with "world-renowned Italian butcher Dario Cecchini." He'll demo butchery, RPM Steak will cook, Tuscan wines will flow for $225.
• The same night, Eataly hosts four Beard nominees who will serve a dish of their invention at one of the food emporium's stands: Donald Link of Herbsaint in New Orleans, Marc Vetri of Vetri in Philadelphia, Dahlia Narvaez, pastry chef of LA's Osteria la Mozza, and Mark Ladner of New York's Del Posto. They'll be doing a meet and greet from 6 to 9 PM; co-owner Lidia Bastianich will also be hanging around.
• Since we're talking about James Beard, you know who else had a beard? Abraham Lincoln, for whom the Hotel Lincoln is named! This astounding coincidence will come to life Saturday at the Green City Market, when you can borrow Lincoln-era props and pose for a photo at the hotel's photo booth at the first outdoor market of the season.
• There are lots of industry after-parties in the works, but here's one you can go to: Monday night from 10 PM to 2 AM the team from Broken Shaker in the upcoming Freehand Hotel will be at La Sirena Clandestina.
• Though I said we went into Beard season with a fair number of media nominees, at last Friday's ceremony Chicago came home with only one, for Steve Dolinsky and Rick Bayless's The Feed podcast. They were up against the Southern Foodways Alliance's Gravy, which (podcast and magazine) ultimately took Publication of the Year. Dolinsky had more commentary here.
• And if you just want to know more about the history of the Beards and the man himself, Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation, will be speaking at Culinary Historians of Chicago on Saturday at 10 AM.