James Beard Awards 2016

With Sepia’s Beverage Director and James Beard Finalist for Outstanding Wine Program, Arthur Hon; © Barry Brecheisen

Congratulations to all of the 2016 James Beard Award winners! It was such an honor to celebrate the achievements of so many talented, hardworking nominees and winners. My first time attending the James Beard Awards was such a memorable evening from eating foie gras macarons to snapping selfies with Ming Tsai to send my mom.

I missed all of the weekend festivities because I was in Portland, which was also a lot of fun (and my dear friend asked me to be her maid of honor!) so I wasn’t too envious of everyone living it up in Chicago. Since I can be a little indecisive, I maxed out my credit card ordering several dresses online in the week leading up to the awards. I landed at midnight on Sunday and fell into bed as soon as I got home.

James Beard Awards 2016

With two of the prettiest ladies in town – Nicole Aylward and Sarah Freeman

Monday morning the first order of business was trying on dresses. I settled on a pretty poofy navy number because you can never have too much tulle. I do realize that all the thought I put into my outfit was probably overkill but I never went to high school prom, so please indulge me. The James Beard Awards are like adult chef prom.

Thinking ahead, I purchased a bedazzled silver clutch (online as well, thank goodness for free shipping) to match my getup and while it was lovely, imagine my chagrin when I discovered that my single most important accessory – my phone – did not fit inside. Even if I took the case off.

James Beard Awards 2016

With Wagstaff’s fabulous Chip Bouchard Vassil

After pondering how to conceal and carry my phone for a few minutes, I came up with a solution. I could simply wear jeans under my skirt and slip my phone into the back pocket of my jeans. My phone would be safe and I could feel it vibrate if anyone were trying to reach me. Actually retrieving my phone from my back pocket was a little more complicated, involving some discreet maneuvering but luckily once I got to the press room, I could just keep my phone out without being rude.

Wearing jeans under my skirt was the best. idea. ever. The awards reception was crowded enough, but once I got to the after parties, I would have been spilled and stepped on at every turn. I can’t bring myself to quote “Ignition,” although I’ll begrudgingly admit that it’s catchy. Let’s just say that after the show, the skirt comes off. Pants stay on.

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