CHICAGO — Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that the James Beard Awards, the "Oscars of the food industry," will extend its run in Chicago through 2027.
Emanuel joined WGN Morning News in studio Monday morning to talk about the impact of the Beard Awards on Chicago, the city's growing food and entertainment sectors and the increased tourism rate.
"The Beard Award brought a floodlight onto the city in neon, and the great news is that all of our chefs have stepped up and really made the city proud," said the mayor.
The James Beard Awards, a red carpet event to honor excellence in the food industry, moved to Chicago in 2015 after 24 years in New York. The next show will take place in May 2019.
Emanuel also mentioned that Chicago's number of annual visitors has grown from over 39 million to over 55 million, attributing the change to new developments in cultural attractions in the theater and food industries, including the Beard Awards.
"Chicago's on record for the highest tourism in the history of the city," Emanuel said. "It's a major economic driver."
The mayor said that Cinespace, the film studio lot where shows like "Chicago Fire" and "Empire" are filmed, has evolved from a former steel plant to an industry that uses 8,500 people a day. He also noted entertainment developments in Uptown with the programming at the Uptown Theatre and Aragon Ballroom and the city's focus on theater as an attraction.
"This year, we're investing a lot of dollars in advertising across the country in the Year of the Chicago Theater to bring people to see the great theater and storefront theaters in the city," Emanuel said.
Emanuel also praised new developments in the city's food industry, including new food entrepreneur lab The Hatchery, an incubator space where aspiring chefs can get job training and access to production-ready kitchens.
"People who succeed know they have a responsibility to give back, and to me, that's the connection between James Beard and The Hatchery, between Garfield and downtown, creating one city with one future."