The semifinalists for the 2024 James Beard Awards have dropped, and this year New Orleans is represented in the Best New Restaurant, Outstanding Bar, and Best Chef, South categories, among others.
Dakar NOLA, chef Serigne Mbaye’s standout Senegalese tasting menu restaurant that won a slew of best new restaurant awards in 2023 (including as one of Eater’s 12 best new restaurants in America and Eater New Orleans’s best new restaurant), is a semifinalist in the Beard Awards Best New Restaurant category. Mbaye was a semifinalist and finalist for the Emerging Chef category the last two years, in 2022 and 2023, but did not take home the award (no New Orleans chefs were named semifinalists in that category this year).
For the best chef, South category, which covers Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Puerto Rico, six chefs from five New Orleans restaurants are represented, including four exciting first-time semifinalists:
- Melissa Araujo, chef and owner of Alma Cafe
- Amarys and Jordan Herndon, the chef duo at Palm and Pine, for the second year in a row
- Sophina Uong, chef and co-owner at Mister Mao
- Arvinder Vilkhu, chef and owner of Saffron
- Marlon “Chicken” Williams, chef and owner of Chicken’s Kitchen
Jewel of the South, a French Quarter cocktail bar and restaurant co-owned by James Beard Award-winning bartender Chris Hannah, is a semifinalist for Outstanding Bar. In the Outstanding Restaurateur category, fellow French Quarter proprietor Robert LeBlanc, whose bars and restaurants include Sylvain, The Chloe, and The Will & The Way, is a semifinalist. And Arnaud’s, the 100+-year-old French Quarter staple of fine dining, is a semifinalist in the Outstanding Hospitality category. Hunter Evans of Elvie’s in Jackson, MS is also a semifinalist for Best New Chef: South, while Vestige, in Ocean Springs, MS, is a semifinalist in the Outstanding Restaurant category.
In total, nine New Orleans restaurants and chefs or chef duos were selected as semifinalists. For the full list of semifinalists, see here.
Finalists will be announced on Wednesday, April 3, and winners will be announced at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards Ceremony on Monday, June 10 in Chicago.
Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Foundation Awards.