2024 James Beard Award Winners

The James Beard Foundation handed out its coveted culinary awards Monday evening in Chicago, showcasing an eclectic collection of winners from a range of restaurants in cities and towns across America.

Michael Rafidi, of the Arab-influenced Albi in Washington, D.C., was named outstanding chef. He dedicated his award “to Palestine and to all the Palestinian people out there, whether it’s here or in Palestine or all over the world.”

The 24-seat Thai tasting menu restaurant Langbaan in Portland, Ore., won the outstanding restaurant award. The team from Dakar NOLA in New Orleans, which offers a Senegalese tasting menu, received best new restaurant. The award for outstanding restaurateur went to Erika and Kelly Whitaker, who run a restaurant group in the Denver area. Chicago’s own Lula Cafe won for outstanding hospitality.

In recent years, the awards, which were first given out in 1991, have evolved into a glamorous night of red carpet moments and food-focused partying funded largely by a roster of big-name sponsors.

According to the Beard award organizers, the ceremony sold out for the first time in eight years with several nominees opting to bring their entire staffs to the event.

The popularity of this year’s event suggests that the organization may have weathered conflicts both internal and external, which exploded in 2020 when the foundation canceled the awards at the last minute after critics said the slate of nominees was not diverse enough and contained chefs who had been accused of abuse.

In addition to cooking prowess and the quality of the dining experience, the awards now consider a nominee’s treatment of staff, work in the community and commitment to broader issues like equity and climate change.

As a result, the range of nominated chefs and restaurants has expanded beyond America’s coasts, traditional culinary powerhouses and darlings of food media. This year, a wide-ranging list of finalists was more geographically diverse than ever, featuring new names and lesser-known restaurants.

But at least one award was given to a more enduring name in the food world: Ruth Reichl, the author, editor and former restaurant critic for The New York Times who was given a lifetime achievement award.

“It is hard to believe how enormous the changes in the food world have been in my lifetime,” she said in her acceptance speech. “People finally understand that eating is an ethical act and our food choices really, really matter.”

Here are the winners:

Outstanding Chef

Michael Rafidi, Albi, Washington, D.C.

Outstanding Restaurant

Langbaan, Portland, Ore.

Outstanding Restaurateur

Erika Whitaker and Kelly Whitaker, Id Est (the Wolf’s Tailor, Brutø, Basta, Hey Kiddo and others), Denver

Best New Restaurant

Dakar NOLA, New Orleans

Emerging Chef

Masako Morishita, Perry’s, Washington, D.C.

Outstanding Bakery

ZU Bakery, Portland, Maine

Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker

Atsuko Fujimoto, Norimoto Bakery, Portland, Maine

Outstanding Hospitality

Lula Cafe, Chicago

Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program

Lula Drake Wine Parlour, Columbia, S.C.

Outstanding Bar

Jewel of the South, New Orleans

Best Chef: New York State

Charlie Mitchell, Clover Hill, Brooklyn

Best Chef: California

Lord Maynard Llera, Kuya Lord, Los Angeles

Best Chef: Great Lakes (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio)

Hajime Sato, Sozai, Clawson, Mich.

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (Washington, D.C., Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia)

Harley Peet, Bas Rouge, Easton, Md.

Best Chef: Northwest and Pacific (Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington)

Gregory Gourdet, Kann, Portland, Ore.

Best Chef: Midwest (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin)

Christina Nguyen, Hai Hai, Minneapolis

Best Chef: Mountain (Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming)

Matt Vawter, Rootstalk, Breckenridge, Colo.

Best Chef: Northeast (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont)

David Standridge, the Shipwright’s Daughter, Mystic, Conn.

Best Chef: Southeast (Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia.)

Paul Smith, 1010 Bridge, Charleston, W.V.

Best Chef: South (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Puerto Rico)

Valerie Chang, Maty’s, Miami, Fla.

Best Chef: Southwest (Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma)

Rene Andrade, Bacanora, Phoenix

Best Chef: Texas

Ana Liz Pulido, Ana Liz Taqueria, Mission, Texas

Humanitarian of the Year

The LEE Initiative

Lifetime Achievement Award

Ruth Reichl

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