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Posted on Tue, May 10, 2011 : 3:10 p.m.

Zingerman's Roadhouse chef Alex Young wins prestigious James Beard Award

By Jessica Webster


Photo courtesy of Kelly Young.

The fifth time was a charm for Zingerman's Roadhouse chef and owner Alex Young. After four years of being nominated but going home empty-handed, Young took home the James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef: Great Lakes at an awards ceremony in New York last night.

Dubbed "the Oscars of the food world" by Time Magazine, the James Beard Foundation Awards honor the best and the brightest of the food world in an annual ceremony in New York's Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center.

Young's award was in the "Best Chefs In America" category, which honors "chefs who have set new or consistent standards of excellence in their respective regions," according the James Beard Foundation website. To take home the award, Young beat out four high-end Chicago-area restaurants.

It was a family affair for Young, who traveled to New York for the awards with his wife and three children in a camper. The Youngs parked their camper in New Jersey and commuted into the city for the ceremony, according to Zingerman's marketing manager Pete Sickman-Garner.

"I'm reminded how lucky I am to work with so many wonderful people," Young said in a press release. "It was and is still very exciting to have won a regional James Beard award, but it is thanks to everyone involved in making it happen at the Roadhouse. What an honor!"

Jessica Webster leads the Food & Drink section for You can reach her at



Wed, May 11, 2011 : 11:55 a.m.

Congratulations! I love your food. p.s. - LOL going to New York and camping in NJ. That's the way to go instead of spending all your money in those expensive hotels.

Elaine F. Owsley

Wed, May 11, 2011 : 5:08 p.m.

Maybe Zingermans should pop for a hotel next time. What a nice lot of free publicity Alex brought them.

John Hritz

Wed, May 11, 2011 : 3:41 a.m.

Congratulations on this well deserved recognition. Looking forward to the BBQ dinner in a few months!


Tue, May 10, 2011 : 11:58 p.m.

Congrats. James Beard Award. Isn't that the group of NY "alternatives" that hoodwink restaurants (seemingly from the midwest) into providing them free food and labor for their yearly parties?

Adam Jaskiewicz

Tue, May 10, 2011 : 10:19 p.m.

Congratulations, Alex! I've always had great food and service at the Roadhouse, and I always love to see Michigan on the map.

Mary Bilyeu

Tue, May 10, 2011 : 9:34 p.m.

They say it's a thrill just to be nominated, and I'm sure it was for each of those previous years. But it is SO exciting -- and such an honor -- that Alex won!!!


Tue, May 10, 2011 : 9:05 p.m.

Great food, including great vegetables and pastas.


Tue, May 10, 2011 : 8:36 p.m.



Tue, May 10, 2011 : 8:10 p.m.

I have enjoyed his food and applaud his success, but I take issue with one answer he gave in the Bon App├ętit profile of the nominees (linked from the article above): Q: Ingredient/trend you'd be happy to have just go away? A: Vegetarianism Really, Chef Alex? Though not a vegetarian myself, this saddens me on so many levels. Vegetarianism isn't a "trend," and it won't ever go away. Chefs seem, as a group, to resent vegetarians, when instead they should regard them as a challenge and find better ways to accommodate them. If this is truly Chef Alex's attitude toward vegetarians, maybe I'll think twice before venturing into his restaurant again.

Anne Savage

Sun, May 15, 2011 : 1:31 p.m.

fjord, well said! I am very surprised by his comment about vegetarianism. He started a garden to grow better food for his restaurant. This from an article on <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> "My initial motivation was to grow food that tasted better, but the more I learn the more passionate I get about it. And knowing that 10 years from now this approach is helping farmers transition to growing food rather than sending their vegetables to a processing plant makes me feel good when I go to bed at night." For someone to put so much stock into to the production of good vegetables and then to be so negative towards those who eat only vegetables is a contrition to me. As a vegetarian I am also saddened by this comment and will also think twice before visiting his restaurant.

Adam Jaskiewicz

Tue, May 10, 2011 : 10:25 p.m.

There's being a vegetarian and then there's Vegetarianism. The former is a lifestyle choice, whilst the latter is a political agenda.