James Beard Chef Awards announced

A couple of weeks ago we covered the James Beard Foundation’s Cookbook Awards, and now it’s time for the other half of the JBF: the Chef Awards. As Grub Street points out, there was a lot of diversity in this year’s awards, a testament to the commitment made by the JBF to include more people of color and women in the judging and selection process. 

cookbook covers

Many of the chefs and restaurants that received awards also have cookbooks, which is what we like to spotlight here at EYB. Grub Street has the full list of all award winners. If you live in or plan to visit the U.S., you can use the regional winners (and nominees) to plan some memorable dinners, assuming you can still get a reservation now that everyone knows how great these places are. 

On to the winners. Taking home the title of Outstanding Chef is Ashley Christiansen of Poole’s Diner in North Carolina. Her 2016 book Poole’s: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner has received a 4.5 star review in the EYB Library. The Outstanding Restaurant Award went to Michael Solomonov’s Zahav restaurant in Philadelphia. Chef Corey Lee’s Benu restaurant in San Francisco earned honors for its outstanding wine program. 

Kwame Onwuachi received the accolade for Rising Star Chef of the Year, which recognizes a “chef age 30 or younger who displays exceptional talent, character, and leadership ability, and who is likely to make a significant impact in years to come.” We expect to see more from Chef Onwuachi in the years to come. 

Jody Williams and Rita Sodi shared the title of Best Chef: New York City for their restaurant Via Carota. Maybe we will get a book from that restaurant (hint, hint). Patrick O’Connell of The Inn at Little Washington received a well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award

For the first time, I can say that I ate in a JBF-award-winning restaurant. I have dined at Jim’s Steak and Spaghetti House in Huntington, West Virginia on several occasions. The classic red-sauce, old-school eatery was recognized as a 2019 James Beard Foundation America’s Classics restaurant. Congratulations to all of the winners. 

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