No New Orleans chefs or restaurants took home a medal from the James Beard Awards ceremony in Chicago on the evening of Monday, June 5, getting shut out of three categories with local finalists. It’s the second year in a row without New Orleans represented amongst the winners; the last time a New Orleans chef won was in 2019, when Kelly Fields of Willa Jean won outstanding pastry chef (the Awards did not take place in 2020 or 2021).
After a strong showing in the semifinalist round — there were 12 New Orleans chefs (or chef duos) and restaurants on the longlist — New Orleans had three finalists in high-profile categories: emerging chef (Serigne Mbaye for Dakar NOLA), outstanding bakery (Angelo Brocato), and best chef, South (Ana Castro, Lengua Madre). 2022 was the first time in the previous 10 years of Awards that New Orleans was shut out from the top honors.
Damarr Brown of Virtue in Chicago took home the win for emerging chef. For the best chef, South category, which covers Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Puerto Rico, Natalia Vallejo, of Cocina al Fondo in San Juan, became the first James Beard Award winner from Puerto Rico. Yoli Tortilleria in Kansas City, MO won the first-ever outstanding bakery award.
New Orleans was also not represented in the pool of James Beard Media Award winners, which include cookbooks, podcasts, and TV shows, and were announced on Saturday, June 3. Turkey & the Wolf’s Mason Hereford and Cure’s Neal Bodenheimer were both in the running for James Beard Book Awards. Here is the full list of 2023 James Beard Foundation Media Award Winners.
For the full list of 2023 James Beard Award winners, see here.
Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Foundation Awards.