This, in many respects, is the best time of year for chefs, restaurant owners, everyone in the food industry, and foodies too. Not only is business picking up due to summer’s arrival, the James Beard Foundation has also announced the winners of its prestigious James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards.
The James Beard Foundation has held an award ceremony every year since 1990. Those awards, named after American chef, cookbook author, and TV personality James Beard, recognize “exceptional talent and achievement in the culinary arts, hospitality, media, and broader food system, as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive,” according to the James Beard Foundation.
This year’s award ceremony was held this week in Chicago. Here are some of the 2023 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Award winners.
Rob Rubba, Oyster Oyster, Washington, D.C.
The Outstanding Chef award is presented each year to “a chef who sets high culinary standards and has served as a positive example for other food professionals, while contributing positively to their broader community,” the James Beard Foundation explains.
“Sustainability is front and center at chef Rob Rubba’s Michelin-starred tasting menu restaurant, Oyster Oyster,” according to OpenTable. “Rubba eliminated single-use plastics at his restaurant and has received numerous accolades for his vegetable-centric dishes.”
Friday Saturday Sunday, Philadelphia
The Outstanding Restaurant award is given to “a restaurant that demonstrates consistent excellence in food, atmosphere, hospitality, and operations, while contributing positively to its broader community,” according to the James Beard Foundation.
“Hanna and Chad Williams bought this space in 2015, gut renovated it, got married in it in 2016, and transformed it into the tasting-menu favorite that it is today,” Open Table explains.
Best New Restaurant
Kann, Portland, Oregon
The Best New Restaurant award recognizes “a restaurant opened between January 1 through September 30, 2022, that already demonstrates excellence in cuisine, atmosphere, hospitality, and operations, while contributing positively to its broader community, and seems likely to make a significant impact in years to come,” the James Beard Foundation explains.
“Chef and owner Gregory Gourdet also took home a Beard last year for his cookbook Everyone’s Table: Global Recipes for Modern Health,” Open Table notes. “His wood-fired restaurant Kann, which blends Haitian cuisine with ingredients from the Pacific Northwest, was named among Esquire’s best new restaurants in 2022.”
Ellen Yin, High Street Hospitality Group (Fork, a.kitchen + bar, High Street, And Others), Philadelphia
This award is given to “a restaurateur who uses their establishment(s) as a vehicle for building community, demonstrates creativity in entrepreneurship and integrity in restaurant operations, and is making efforts to create a sustainable work culture, while contributing positively to their broader community,” James Beard Foundation points out.
“Legendary Philly restaurateur Ellen Yin changed the face of local fine dining when she opened Fork in 1997 to spotlight local ingredients,” Open Table explains.
Damarr Brown, Virtue, Chicago
The Emerging Chef award is given each year to “a chef who displays exceptional talent, character, and leadership ability, and who is likely to make a significant impact in years to come, while contributing positively to their broader community,” according to the Foundation.
“Top Chef contestant Brown has been hailed for his creativity and also nabbed Food & Wine’s best new chef award in 2022,” Open Table continues. “Virtue is owned by Brown’s mentor and fellow James Beard Award winner Erick Williams.”
Bar Leather Apron, Honolulu, Hawaii
The award for Outstanding Bar Award recognizes a wine bar, beer bar, cocktail bar, coffee bar, or any other business that primarily offers beverages. “Those recognized demonstrate consistent excellence in curating a selection or in the preparation of drinks, along with outstanding atmosphere, hospitality, and operations, while contributing positively to its broader community,” the James Beard Foundation explains.
“Founders Justin and Tom Park have been recognized by the World’s 50 Best organization for running one of the 50 best bars in North America,” Open Table points out. “People return here for the stellar cocktails such as E Ho’O Pau Mai Tai with vanilla blossom honey and raisin-infused rum.”
For more about bars and restaurants, be sure to read our Food and Drink content, including: