Press Releases

May 5, 2015

HMSHost’s Channel Your Inner Chef Winner Attends James Beard Awards Gala in Chicago

Nikkia Stone, winner of culinary competition at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, receives VIP guest experience; HMSHost sponsors James Beard Awards in celebration of culinary innovation

CHICAGO, IL — Cameras flashed, sweet and savory aromas filled the air, exotic culinary creations sizzled, and senses were heightened as Nikkia Stone made her way through the Lyric Opera of Chicago Monday evening—as HMSHost’s VIP guest to the James Beard Foundation Awards Gala. As a proud sponsor of the 2015 James Beard Awards, HMSHost held the first-of-its-kind Channel Your Inner Chef culinary competition on March 31, 2015, in partnership with the Chicago Department of Aviation at O’Hare International Airport. The event was a celebration of the culinary innovation and expertise for which Chicago has become so well known. The competition was heated and intense, with Nikkia’s blackened jerk chicken & butternut squash earning her two VIP admissions to the James Beard Awards Gala, among other prizes.

Well-deserved Nikkia hit the red carpet with her sister, and together the two witnessed the recognition of the nation’s greatest chefs of the year. Following a thrilling awards celebration, the two meandered through the rows of culinary delights throughout the beautiful Lyric Opera.

“Although I was just happy to compete, I was so excited about winning Channel Your Inner Chef and having the opportunity to attend the prestigious James Beard Gala with my sister,” said HMSHost Cook and Channel Your Inner Chef Contest Winner Nikkia Stone. “Channel Your Inner Chef was a thrilling day filled with excitement and nerves. Between it being my birthday and winning the contest, my phone was ringing all day!”

In addition to the VIP James Beard Gala tickets, Nikkia’s prize also included roundtrip airfare to a choice destination and having the winning dish featured on select HMSHost restaurant menus at Chicago O’Hare. Although Nikkia has not booked a trip yet, she said she “would like to plan a trip with her mother to experience Alaska in the summer when the sun doesn’t set.” Nikkia is also very excited to see her name and signature dish on menus, which is slated to happen this summer.

“Attending the James Beard Awards Gala has been a truly inspiring experience. There is so much talent in this industry and HMSHost is honored to be a sponsor in support of the organization at the center of America’s culinary community,” said HMSHost Vice President of Marketing Atousa Ghoreichi.

The Channel Your Inner Chef cook-off event was held at the airport in partnership with the Chicago Department of Aviation. The event was a celebration of culinary innovation and HMSHost’s sponsorship of the 2015 James Beard Foundation Awards Gala. A video recapping the event can be seen here.

About HMSHost
Global restaurateur HMSHost is a world leader in creating dining for travel venues. HMSHost operates locations all over North America, and is part of Autogrill Group, the world's leading provider of food & beverage services for people on the move. Visit for more information.