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James Beard Awards Dished Out

The anticipated awards for outstanding chefs and restaurants across the nation have been announced—so you and your attendees know where to enjoy the best-of-the-best cuisine

By Linden M. Bayliss

From left: Chris Hannah, Shaun Merritt-Williams, John Stubbs, and Victoria Espinel of “Outstanding Bar” winner Jewel of the South in New Orleans, Louisiana || Photo by Galdones Photography, courtesy of the James Beard Foundation

The James Beard Foundation announced the winners of the 2024 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards on June 10 during a live ceremony at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in Illinois. The awards honor excellence across the U.S. culinary community, from fine dining to casual gems, while also supporting and encouraging a more sustainable industry. The ceremony was co-hosted by Nyesha Arrington, chef, restaurateur, and co-host of Fox’s “Next Level Chef;” Richard Blais, chef, James Beard-nominated author, and co-host of Fox’s “Next Level Chef;” Amanda Freitag, chef, author, and judge on Food Network’s “Chopped;” and Marcus Samuelsson, James Beard Award-winning chef, restaurateur, and author.

“These remarkable individuals embody the very essence of our ‘good food for good ethos’ [motto], showcasing exceptional talent, unwavering dedication to their craft, and a steadfast commitment to elevating the industry,” says Clare Reichenbach, CEO of the James Beard Foundation, in a prepared statement. “With their passion, skill, and leadership, they are shaping our nation’s dining landscape and setting a new standard for culinary excellence.”

Modern Senegalese fare from Dakar NOLA, this year’s “Best New Restaurant,” which is available for full buyouts || Courtesy of Dakar NOLA

The 2024 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards winners are recognized across 22 categories. This year’s winners include:

  • Outstanding Chef: Michael Rafidi, Albi in Washington, D.C.
  • Outstanding Restaurateur: Erika Whitaker and Kelly Whitaker, Id Est (The Wolf’s Tailor, Brutø, Basta, and others) in Boulder, Colorado
  • Outstanding Restaurant: Langbaan in Portland, Oregon
  • Emerging Chef: Masako Morishita, Perry’s in Washington, D.C.
  • Best New Restaurant: Dakar NOLA in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Outstanding Bakery: ZUBakery in Portland, Maine
  • Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker: Atsuko Fujimoto, Norimoto Bakery in Portland, Maine
  • Outstanding Hospitality: Lula Cafe in Chicago, Illinois
  • Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program: Lula Drake Wine Parlour in Columbia, South Carolina
  • Outstanding Bar: Jewel of the South in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Best Chef: California: Lord Maynard Llera, Kuya Lord in Los Angeles, California
  • Best Chef: Great Lakes: Hajime Sato, Sozai in Clawson, Michigan
  • Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic: Harley Peet, Bas Rouge in Easton, Maryland
  • Best Chef: Midwest: Christina Nguyen, Hai Hai in Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Best Chef: Mountain: Matt Vawter, Rootstalk in Breckenridge, Colorado
  • Best Chef: New York State: Charlie Mitchell, Clover Hill in Brooklyn, New York
  • Best Chef: Northeast: David Standridge, The Shipwright’s Daughter in Mystic, Connecticut
  • Best Chef: Northwest & Pacific: Gregory Gourdet, Kann in Portland, Oregon
  • Best Chef: South: Valerie Chang, Maty’s in Miami, Florida
  • Best Chef: Southeast: Paul Smith, 1010 Bridge in Charleston, West Virginia
  • Best Chef: Southwest: Rene Andrade, Bacanora in Phoenix, Arizona
  • Best Chef: Texas: Ana Liz Pulido, Ana Liz Taqueria in Mission, Texas

Dining area at Perry’s in Washington, D.C., whose executive chef, Masako Morishita, won the “Emerging Chef” award || Courtesy of Perry’s

If planners want to experience these best-in-class establishments beyond a group dinner reservation, several offer rentable event spaces. Among them is the winner of the James Beard Award for outstanding bar, Jewel of the South, in New Orleans, Louisiana. It sits in an 1835 classic Creole cottage and offers several private event spaces, such as its lush courtyard filled with tropical vegetation and fruit trees that can accommodate up to 42 guests seated or 55 standing. Another is Rootstalk in Breckenridge, Colorado, created by the winner of the award for best chef in the “Mountain” region, Matt Vawter. The venue’s Root Cellar provides lower-level private dining space for up to 30 guests and its main dining room can host up to 60. Private events in Root Cellar feature curated menus tailored to each celebration. Other James Beard Award winners, like “best new restaurant” Dakar NOLA, offer full restaurant buyouts, and some provide catering or intimate chef’s table-type experiences.