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'We keep doing good': Cleveland chef Brandon Chrostowski looks ahead after being James Beard Award finalist

Chrostowski was one of five finalists in the category of Outstanding Restaurateur.

CHICAGO — For the second year in a row, Brandon Chrostowski, the founder of EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute in Cleveland's Shaker Square, fell just short of winning a prestigious James Beard Award.

The ceremonies, honoring the top restaurants and chefs in the nation, were held Monday evening at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Chrostowski was one of five finalists in the category of Outstanding Restaurateur. Although he lost out to Ellen Yin of the High Street Hospitality Group of Philadelphia, Chrostowski says he was proud to have been recognized for his work.

"I tell you the last eight weeks, it's like this pressure cooker. There's five of you in the country (finalists), you represent a city that you believe so passionately in," he told our Lydia Esparra after the awards on Monday night. "Look, if next year comes, next year comes. In the meantime, we don't change the course. We keep doing good. We keep making an impact."

Since its founding by Chrostowski in 2007, EDWINS has been committed to offering formerly incarcerated adults "a foundation in the culinary and hospitality industries and a support network necessary for long-term success." The EDWINS brand includes an award-winning fine French restaurant, Butcher Shop, Bakery, and edwins too. The institute graduates nearly 100 students each year, with an employment rate of 95%.

"We're still really the national model for what we do. And we're very, very proud of it," Chrostowski added. On Tuesday, he is scheduled to visit the Danville Correctional Center in Danville, Illinois, where he will talk with inmates about opportunities and life after incarceration. 

Last week, Chrostowski opened the EDWINS Family Center in Shaker Heights, which will provide "free, high-quality childcare to children of formerly incarcerated adults in a safe, stable, and caring environment." Earlier this year, he traveled through Ukraine, distributing goods and feeding those displaced by the war.

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