New York City Is Shut Out of the James Beard Awards for the Second Year in a Row

New York City won a single James Beard Restaurant and Chef Award at the June 10 ceremony at the Lyric Opera House in Chicago. Among finalists for Best Chef: New York State, Charlie Mitchell, of Brooklyn’s Michelin-starred Clover Hill, won. Mitchell was a finalist in 2023 for the Emerging Chef Award.

Outside of the state category, New York chefs and restaurants have had a rough couple of years, having won no national medals for two years running at the “Oscars of the food world.” Last year was the first time the city has been shut out of national awards since the honors were first presented over three decades ago.

New York finalists of any sort fell primarily in the New York State category, which, in addition to Mitchell, included Nasim Alikhani of Sofreh; Atsushi Kono of Kono; Jeremy Salamon of Agi’s Counter; and Chris Mauricio of Harana Market in Accord, New York. Semifinalists included a list of 20 primarily New York City chefs.

Among national categories, Fariyal Abdullahi of Hav & Mar was a finalist for Emerging Chef, while D.C.’s Masako Morishita of Perry’s landed the win. Melba’s got the finalist nod in the Outstanding Hospitality category, and Chicago’s Lula Cafe won. The Foundation nominated former Manhattan spot, Mel the Bakery (now in Hudson, New York), as an Outstanding Bakery finalist; Zu Bakery in Portland, Maine won.

The James Beard Foundation announced this year’s list of semifinalists for the 2024 annual food awards in January, followed by its New York pick for America’s Classic, Sylvia’s, the Harlem institution. Finalists were announced in April, at which point New York restaurants landed few slots in many of the high-profile categories.

Foul Witch, Foxface Natural, and Tatiana made it to the semifinalist round for Best New Restaurant, and did not move to the finalist round. Superiority Burger, up for Outstanding Restaurant, also did not make the finalist cut. Emma Bengtsson of Aquavit, and Dan Kluger of Loring Place (and Greywind), were semifinalists for Outstanding Chef, while Eunji Lee of Lysée, and Camari Mick, of the Musket Room and Raf’s, were semifinalists for Outstanding Pastry Chef. Make My Cake also landed an Outstanding Bakery nod in the semifinalist round.

Double Chicken Please and All Night Skate were considered for Outstanding Bar, but did not move past semifinalist round. Cote was also a semifinalist for Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages. In the Outstanding Restaurateur category, Bryan Chunton and Pei Wei of Zaab Zaab and Zaab Zaab Talay, along with Ravi DeRossi, were cut in the finalist round.

The Restaurant and Chef Awards have roots in New York. In the James Beard Foundation’s first year, 1991, over 1,000 chefs, restaurateurs, and food writers boarded a dinner-cruise boat for the inaugural ceremony; the awards were later moved to Lincoln Center. Every year since the awards began until 2023, at least one New York restaurant or chef had won in a national category, but it’s no longer a New York awards show, and it hasn’t been for years.

The awards moved to Chicago in 2015 and since then, particularly following an internal audit in 2021, the Foundation has made efforts to create more geographic diversity in its selections. The awards were back in the spotlight last year, after one chef was disqualified from the category they were nominated for and another nominee was investigated for their personal posts on social media.

The James Beard Awards took a hiatus during the pandemic, canceling seasons in 2020 and 2021.

Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Awards. Eater is partnering with the James Beard Foundation to livestream the awards in 2024. All editorial content is produced independently of the James Beard Foundation.

Anna Harden

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