Food & Drink

Who won James Beard Awards in Chicago? Here's the full list of winners

See the full recap of 2024 James Beard Award winners

Looking for your next dining destination? The James Beard Foundation announced its 2024 restaurant and chef award winners at a live ceremony at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday.

Claire Reichenbach, CEO of the James Beard Foundation, toasted to the 2024 winners, saying they embody the James Beard "Good Food for Good" ethos and "are shaping our nation's dining landscape and setting a new standard for culinary excellence."

The full recap of winners is listed below. More information on the awards can be found on the James Beard website.

Outstanding Chef

Michael Rafidi from Albi in Washington, D.C., was awarded Outstanding Chef. Rafidi opened Albi in February 2020, and the restaurant was given a Michelin Star in 2022. The chef said his restaurant is inspired by the Palestinian cooking he grew up with.

Outstanding Restauranteur

The Outstanding Restauranteur Award was given to Erika Whitaker and Kelly Whitaker of Id Est hospitality group. The Whitakers have opened seven restaurants throughout Colorado, several of which have earned Michelin Stars as well as Michelin Green Stars for sustainable practices. Kelly Whitaker was previously nominated for this same award in 2023.

Outstanding Restaurant

Langbaan, a Thai restaurant in Portland, Oregon, was awarded Outstanding Restaurant. The restaurant’s owner, Akkapong Ninsom, said he started this restaurant to prove that "Thai food had much, much more than what Americans have seen." Located in northwest Portland, Langbaan seats about 24 people and serves a Thai tasting menu, which changes every two months to shift focus to different regions in Thailand.

Emerging Chef

The award for Emerging Chef went to Masako Morishita of Perry's in Washington D.C. Morishita, a former cheerleader for the Washington Commanders, became the executive chef at Perry’s in 2022 and began incorporating Japanese dishes like miso butter clams and uni mac and cheese. Morishita called this win her "wildest American dream come true."

Best New Restaurant

Dakar NOLA in New Orleans took home the award for Best New Restaurant. The Senegalese tasting menu restaurant is owned by Dr. Afua "Effie" Richardson. Chef Serigne Mbaye, who has been nominated for two James Beard awards himself, said at Dakar, they "cook to nurture the soul."

Outstanding Bakery

Outstanding Bakery went to ZUBakery located in Portland, Maine. Owner Barak Olins originally opened the bakery in 2000, and continues to sell out at the bakery and at farmers markets.

Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker

Another win for Portland, Maine, went to Atsuko Fujimoto of Norimoto Bakery for Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker. Fujimoto, who moved to Portland from Tokyo, describes her bakery as being comprised of "European baking, Japanese sensibility, Maine ingredients."

Outstanding Hospitality

The only Chicago winner from the awards was Lula Cafe, for Outstanding Hospitality. Owner Chef Jason Hammel has been serving American cuisine out of Lula since opening the restaurant in 2000. Hammel had previously been a nominee for Best Chef: Great Lakes in 2019, 2020 and 2022.

Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program

Lula Drake Wine Parlour was awarded the award for Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program. This marks the first win for a restaurant in the Columbia, South Carolina, area. Tim Gardner opened Lula Drake in 2016 and has been serving curated wines with seasonal pairings since.

Outstanding Bar

Jewel of the South brought home the second award for New Orleans of the night, winning Outstanding Bar. The bar is owned by Chris Hannah, John Stubbs and Victoria Espinel, and is known for its extensive list of creative specialty cocktails.

Best Chef: California

The Best Chef of California award was given to Lord Maynard Llera, chef and owner of Kuya Lord in Los Angeles. Kuya Lord is an elevated fast casual restaurant serving modern-Filipino restaurant whose name translates to "older brother."

Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH)

Chef Hajime Sato of Sozai in Clawson, Michigan, won the regional Best Chef award for the Great Lakes area. Sato was triumphant in a category that has long been dominated by Chicago chefs. Born in Tokyo and a longtime Seattle resident, Sato and his wife moved to metro Detroit area in 2019 and established their sushi restaurant Sozai.

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (D.C., DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA)

Coming from Bas Rouge Restaurant in Easton, Maryland, Harley Peet took home Best Chef for the Mid-Atlantic region. In his acceptance speech, Peet said he was raised to go through life trying to help others. "Food is way to the soul, food is way to the heart," Peet said.

Best Chef: Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI)

The Midwest Best Chef award went to Christina Nguyen of Hai Hai restaurant in Minneapolis. A self-taught chef, Nguyen has been a nominee in this category four times prior to this year's win. "I feel like we've come a long way," Nguyen said.

Best Chef: New York State

Charlie Mitchell, who owns the tasting room Clover Hill in Brooklyn, New York, was awarded Best Chef of New York State. He is also the executive chef of the restaurant. Previously, Mitchell became the first Black chef in New York to earn a Michelin star for his food at Clover Hill.

Best Chef: Mountain (CO, ID, MT, UT, WY)

The Best Chef award for the mountain region went to Matt Vawter of Rootstalk in Breckenridge, Colorado. Rootstalk, opened by Vawter in 2020, aims to serve elevated, everyday dining. Vawter said he began cooking at age 14 to help his parents pay rent and has never looked back.

Best Chef: Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT)

David Standridge from The Shipwright's Daughter in Mystic, Connecticut, won the award for Best Chef in the northeast region. Standridge opened The Shipwright's Daughter in 2020, where he creates dishes with a goal of committing to sustainability and environmental stewardship, even incorporating kelp and invasive species into his cuisine.

Best Chef: Northwest and Pacific (AK, HI, OR, WA)

The northwest and pacific region's Best Chef was given to Gregory Gourdet of Kaan, his Haitian restaurant in Portland, Oregon. Gourdet is now a three-time Beard award winner. In his acceptance speech, Gourdet reflected on his past struggles, saying he was "broken and miserable" but now has been able to find his voice and purpose as a chef.

Best Chef: South (AL, AR, FL, LA, MS, PR)

Chef Valerie Chang of Maty’s in Miami, Florida, took home the southern region Best Chef award. Chang opened Maty's in 2023. The Peruvian restaurant serves cuisine which nods to the food Chang grew up eating. In her speech, Chang noted the timing of the award, as she named Maty's after her grandmother who "just passed away five days ago." She also thanked her parents for believing in her dream.

Best Chef: Southeast (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV)

Bringing home the first ever Beard award for West Virginia was Paul Smith, chef of 1010 Bridge in Charleston, West Virginia, and winner of the southeastern region Best Chef award. Smith acknowledged his historic win in his acceptance, saying, "two words that have never been mentioned [at this awards ceremony] before: 'West Virginia.'" He went on to thank his community and his team for their help in the victory.

Best Chef: Southwest (AZ, NM, NV, OK)

Rene Andrade was named Best Chef of the southwestern region. His restaurant, Bacanora, is located in downtown Pheonix, and is described as wood-fired Sonoran comfort food. Andrade gave an emotional acceptance speech, thanking his parents and his grandmother, whose cooking he described as "the representation of magic."

Best Chef: Texas

Finally, the Best Chef of Texas award went to Ana Liz Pulido, owner of Ana Liz Taqueria in Mission, Texas. Her taqueria contains a small menu influenced by the owner’s travels to Mexico. Pulido explained how honored she felt to represent the Rio Grande Valley, and finished by saying, "Viva Mexico."

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