The James Beard Foundation announced finalists for the 2022 James Beard restaurant and chef awards on Wednesday, March 16 after a two-yeah hiatus. After a strong showing on the long list of 2022 contenders released last month — 12 semifinalists across five categories — six finalists from New Orleans remain in the running for awards.
The nominees were announced on Twitter, starting with the emerging chef category, a new category that replaces the rising star award. Serigne Mbaye, the New Orleans-based chef behind pop-up dinner series Dakar Nola (and Eater New Orleans’s winner for 2021 chef of the year), is still in the running.
For best chef, South, which covers Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Puerto Rico, New Orleans started out with seven chefs represented; four chefs (from three restaurants) have moved on as finalists:
- Blake Aguillard and Trey Smith, the chefs behind Bywater restaurant Saint-Germain
- Melissa M. Martin, chef and owner of Mosquito Supper Club
- Isaac Toups, the celebrity chef behind Toups’ Meatery
French Quarter fine-dining institution Brennan’s moves forward as a finalist for outstanding restaurant, alongside Butcher & Bee from Charleston; Chai Pani in Asheville; Parachute in Chicago; and the Walrus and the Carpenter in Seattle.
Two New Orleans restaurants that were on the long list for best new restaurant, Charly Pierre’s Fritai and modern Mexican tasting restaurant Lengua Madre, did not advance to the finalist round; same goes for Avenue Pub, which was up for outstanding bar program.
The awards have not taken place for the last two years; in 2020, they were canceled midseason (after semifinalists were named) following criticism around lack of diversity represented amongst winners, and the 2021 awards were not held while the foundation conducted an “audit” of its processes. The foundation says it has implemented new practices going forward, including policy changes and the creation of an independent ethics committee.
The 2022 James Beard Award winners will be announced at a gala in Chicago on Monday, June 13 and broadcast live on Twitter. Here’s the complete list of this year’s JBFA nominees.
Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Foundation Awards.