The James Beard Foundation dropped its 2023 Award finalists, or nominees, on Wednesday, March 29, and there are three New Orleans names on the shortlist: Dakar NOLA’s Serigne Mbaye, Angelo Brocato, and Ana Castro of Lengua Madre.
After a strong showing in the semifinalist round — there were 12 New Orleans chefs (or chef duos) and restaurants on the longlist — the three New Orleans nominees are in high-profile categories: emerging chef (Serigne Mbaye), outstanding bakery (Angelo Brocato), and best chef, South (Ana Castro, Lengua Madre).
It’s the second year in a row that Mbaye, Eater New Orleans’s winner for 2021 chef of the year, has been named in the emerging chef category, which was a new award last year. Mbaye opened his first restaurant in November 2022, bringing his acclaimed Senegalese tasting dinners to a permanent home at 3814 Magazine Street. Mbaye also made it to the finalist round for emerging chef in 2022, but did not take home the award.
For the best chef, South category, which covers Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Puerto Rico, chef Ana Castro is a nominee for her work at Lengua Madre, the two-year-old modern Mexican tasting menu restaurant in the LGD (the restaurant is backed by Michael Stoltzfus, acclaimed chef and owner of Coquette, who was also a semifinalist in the best chef, South category this year). Lengua Madre, which was Eater New Orleans’s fine dining restaurant of the year in 2021, was a semifinalist for best new restaurant in last year’s Beard Awards. Castro’s five-course tasting menu served in a minimalist, mysterious space on Thalia Street has been widely acclaimed since opening in Summer 2021. Alex Perry and Kumi Omori of Vestige in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, are also finalists in the best chef, South category.
Angelo Brocato made it to the finalist round in a brand new category for 2023 — outstanding bakery. The iconic family-run Italian bakery and gelateria has been a New Orleans favorite for more than 100 years, known for its spumoni, freshly piped cannoli, Italian cookies, and classic gelato. Brennan’s, the French Quarter fine-dining institution from the Brennan restaurant family, did not advance in the outstanding restaurant category, nor did Commander’s Palace in the outstanding wine or beverages program category.
Media nominees, which include cookbooks, podcasts, and TV shows, will be revealed on April 26. The awards ceremony will take place in Chicago on June 5. For the full list of 2023 James Beard Award finalists, see here.
Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Foundation Awards.