Congratulations to all the chef and restaurant winners at the 2023 James Beard Awards!
In June, I had the privilege of attending the Chef and Restaurant Awards for the third consecutive year (excluding the COVID years) at the Lyric Opera in Chicago. The event was co-hosted by Esther Choi, Eric Adjepong, Gail Simmonds, and Andrew Zimmeern. Picture below is Andrew Zimmeern and Chris Bianco.
As always, it was an evening filled with emotions for everyone present, as receiving this award is arguably the highest honor in the American restaurant industry.
If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably already seen a lot of content from my James Beard Award weekend earlier this year. However, I'd like to take a moment to write about two remarkable Latina women who were winners that night.
First of, Natalia Vallejo of Cocina al Fondo in San Juan, became the first JBA winner of Puerto Rico as Best Chef South. Natalia mentioned her restaurant is rooted in the traditions, flavors, and history of the island. The Chef is a proud and firm believer her work is to defend local gastronomy and to encourage people to visit San Juan and know her cuisine.
Her award was presented by Chef and Food Media personality, Monti Carlo which made the moment even more special.
Now, let me tell you about Yoli Tortilleria, owned by Marissa and Mark Gencarelli. This Tortilleria made history by being the first to win the James Beard Award for Outstanding Bakery! This win was particularly meaningful to me as Marissa, who is now a dear friend, comes from my hometown Sonora, México. Her mission in Kansas City has always been to follow traditional processes native to México in creating all of her products, including her now award-winning tortillas.
To see the full list of winners please visit the James Beard Foundation website.
How to submit your 2024 James Beard Awards recommendations?
The James Beard Foundation is looking for chefs, creators, food system leaders, and more who could be the next James Beard Award winners! The foundation encourages you to submit your entries before November 30, 2023. The process is rather simple:
Create a profile if you don’t have one already.
Click on “start entry” once you’re logged in.
Select “Restaurant and Chef Awards” in the category field.
If you are entering an Ohioan chef or restaurant, select “Best Chef in America -Great Lakes” or any other of the broader categories such as Outstanding Bakery or Restaurant.
Follow the steps, at the end you will be redirected to a payment page where you can click the “submit for FREE” button or make a donation if desired.
If you have a passion for food, appreciate fine dining experiences, and want to recognize and celebrate your local chefs, I wholeheartedly encourage you to submit an entry or multiple entries!
And of course, thank you to the James Beard Foundation for having me again this year.