After facing questions about its new processes, the James Beard Foundation held its annual gala in Chicago on Monday.
The James Beard Foundation presented its coveted culinary awards for 2023 in Chicago on Monday night, with the top awards going to Rob Rubba of Oyster Oyster in Washington, D.C., as outstanding chef and to Friday Saturday Sunday in Philadelphia as outstanding restaurant.
Reflecting the awards’ growing clout, Mayor Brandon Johnson of Chicago and Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois appeared live onstage, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a video, praised the soft power of culinary diplomacy, citing the Beard-award-winning chef Edward Lee’s Maryland crab cakes with gochujang vinaigrette, which were served at a recent state dinner.
In some ways, the gala was the eye in a recent storm of controversies about the group’s process and priorities.
A new voting system was instituted last year, after a 2020 fiasco in which the foundation, after the final voting had taken place, canceled the awards over concerns about diversity and about abuse accusations against some finalists. After an internal audit, the awards process was retooled to reward not only culinary excellence, but equity, leadership, sustainability and community-building.
Like many other institutions, the foundation also opened a public tip line, and at least two of this year’s finalists were the subject of recent inquiries that included interviews with private investigators hired by the foundation’s ethics committee.
The chef and writer Tanya Holland, who leads the awards program, said that overall “the new system is working the way it should.” She noted that the 2023 finalists, chosen by about 240 judges, reflected diversity in every region, cuisine and category. Among about 30 winners this year, 25 are people of color.
Here are the winners:
Friday Saturday Sunday, Philadelphia
Ellen Yin, High Street Hospitality Group (Fork, a.kitchen + bar, High Street Philly, and others), Philadelphia
Rob Rubba, Oyster Oyster, Washington, D.C.
Damarr Brown, Virtue, Chicago
Best New Restaurant
Kann, Portland, Ore.
The Quarry, Monson, Maine
Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program
Ototo, Los Angeles
Bar Leather Apron, Honolulu
Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker
Margarita Manzke, République, Los Angeles
Yoli Tortilleria, Kansas City, Mo.
Best Chef: New York State
Junghyun Park, Atomix, Manhattan
Best Chef: Great Lakes (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio)
Tim Flores and Genie Kwon, Kasama, Chicago
Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (Washington, D.C., Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia)
Chutatip Suntaranon, Kalaya, Philadelphia
Best Chef: Midwest (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin)
Itaru Nagano and Andrew Kroeger, Fairchild, Madison, Wis.
Best Chef: Mountain (Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming)
Kris Komori, KIN, Boise, Idaho
Best Chef: California
Justin Pichetrungsi, Anajak Thai, Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Best Chef: Northeast (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont)
Sherry Pocknett, Sly Fox Den Too, Charlestown, R.I.
Best Chef: Northwest and Pacific (Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington)
Vince Nguyen, Berlu, Portland, Ore.
Best Chef: Southeast (Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia.)
Terry Koval, the Deer and the Dove, Decatur, Ga.
Best Chef: South (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Puerto Rico)
Natalia Vallejo, Cocina al Fondo, San Juan, P.R.
Best Chef: Southwest (Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma)
Andrew Black, Grey Sweater, Oklahoma City
Best Chef: Texas
Benchawan Jabthong Painter, Street to Kitchen, Houston