No New Orleans chefs or restaurants took home a medal from the James Beard Awards ceremony in Chicago on Monday night, getting shut out of three categories with local finalists, including emerging chef; best chef, South; and outstanding restaurant — although New Orleans did get a number of shoutouts throughout the livestreamed awards show, including one from the host, chef Kwame Onwuachi, about Hansen’s Sno-Bliz, which earned an America’s classics award from the James Beard Foundation in 2014.
This year, New Orleans had 12 semifinalists across five categories, with six local contenders making the finalist list: Serigne Mbaye, the chef behind Dakar Nola, for emerging chef; Blake Aguillard and Trey Smith (Saint-Germain), Melissa Martin (Mosquito Supper Club), and Isaac Toups (Toups’ Meatery) for best chef, South; and Brennan’s for outstanding restaurant. It’s the first time in 10 years New Orleans has been shut out from the top honors.
Adam Evans, chef of Birmingham, Alabama’s three-year-old Automatic Seafood and Oysters, won best chef, South, and in his acceptance speech credited his first cooking gig in New Orleans with shaping his culinary career: At 21, Evans cooked at Bacco, a former French Quarter restaurant from Ralph and Cindy Brennan, before working with French chef Gerard Maras to open Ralph’s on the Park.
Outside of the restaurant and chef categories, a New Orleans chef did take home a James Beard Media Award over the weekend: Melissa Martin won for her cookbook, “Mosquito Supper Club: Cajun Recipes from a Disappearing Bayou,” in the category “U.S. Foodways.”
Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Foundation Awards.